Aspen Agrees to Buy Glaxo Products for 2.2 Billion Rand

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., the Southern Hemisphere’s largest generic drugmaker, agreed to buy 25 pharmaceutical brands from U.K. partner GlaxoSmithKline Plc to bolster an Australian expansion.

Aspen will pay 2.2 billion rand ($268 million) for labels including Amoxil, Kapanol, Zantac and Lamactil, the Johannesburg-based manufacturer said in a statement today. The purchase will be funded from new offshore debt facilities and will boost earnings in the year ending June 2013, it said.

“Whenever we can, we tend to use debt to fund deals as Aspen is very cash generative, so it doesn’t make sense to issue equity,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Saad said in an interview in Johannesburg. “Over time we can eliminate debt.” The company has secured an interest rate of 5 percent to 6 percent, he said.

Aspen, which supplies medicines in more than 100 countries, is looking to increase business in Asia Pacific, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, Saad said March 7. The transaction with London-based GlaxoSmithKline adds a range of antibiotic and anti-viral medicines as well as painkillers, muscle relaxants and treatments for nausea and inflammation.

Sigma’s Purchase

The South African drugmaker completed the purchase last year of Melbourne-based Sigma Pharmaceuticals, which allowed Aspen to introduce its generic and over-the-counter products in Australia and expand into countries including Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.

“We already issue one in seven scripts in Australia and so this deal means we can promote these brands without many additional overhead costs,” Saad said. Aspen can take brands that haven’t received attention from the previous owner, “give them some care and make them work.”

Fiscal first-half profit jumped 30 percent to 1.5 billion rand as sales in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Philippines tripled. Aspen is scheduled to release preliminary full-year earnings on Sept. 12.

Aspen fell 0.4 percent to 139.50 rand at the close in Johannesburg. The shares have gained 44 percent this year, the second-best performance on the six-stock FTSE/JSE Africa Non-Cyclical Consumer Goods Index.

GlaxoSmithKline, the U.K.’s largest drugmaker, owns 18.6 percent of Aspen. BDO Corporate Finance (Pty) Ltd. found the transaction between the companies to be fair to Aspen shareholders, the South African company said.

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