Pharmacy Chain 36.6 Surges on Veropharm Stake Sale: Moscow Mover

OAO Pharmacy Chain 36.6, Russia’s biggest drugstore chain, jumped the most in three years after agreeing to sell its stake in OAO Veropharm to reduce debt.

The shares advanced as much as 23 percent, closing up 14 percent at 27.34 rubles in Moscow, the most since September 2010. The amount of shares trading was equivalent to 8.7 times the three-month average. Veropharm gained 15 percent to 835.10 rubles.

Moscow-based 36.6 agreed to sell a 52 percent stake in Veropharm for 5 billion rubles ($151 million) to billionaire Roman Avdeev’s GardenHills, according to a website statement today. 36.6’s debt stood at 8.3 billion rubles at the end of last year, while Veropharm’s debt equaled 1.5 billion rubles.

“The price is really good, higher than expected,” Marat Ibragimov, an analyst at Uralsib Capital, said by phone from Moscow. “36.6 has an enormous debt load, which curbed their operating profits. Now they’ll be able to cut their leverage.”

Veropharm’s total market capitalization was about 7.2 billion rubles at yesterday’s close, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.