Swiss Investor Buys Stake in 900 South African Pharmacies

Shogun Holdings & Finanz, a Swiss investment company, bought a majority stake in a group of South African pharmacies banding together to win better prices from suppliers and challenge larger retailers.

Shogun paid 350 million rand ($31.3 million) for a 51 percent stake in Alpha Pharm (Pty) Ltd, the two companies said today in an e-mailed statement. More than 900 independent South African drug retailers agreed to combine under a single entity as part of the deal, and will own the rest of Alpha Pharm.

“We look forward to leveraging the synergies created by this merger to enable these pharmacies to compete in a market increasingly dominated by major retail chains,” said Lynton Lomas, Shogun’s representative in South Africa. “We respect the tradition of the independent community pharmacy.”

South African retailers have struggled this year as shoppers battle with rising inflation and unemployment of more than 25 percent. Alpha Pharm will compete with Cape Town-based Clicks Group Ltd., closely held Dis-Chem and Shoprite Holdings Ltd.-owned Checkers.

Alpha Pharm will be the common brand for all of the pharmacies, Lomas said in a phone interview. “Pricing will be fair” as the company will be able to bargain on a collective basis with suppliers.

Combined annual revenue at the 900 outlets is in the “numerous billions of rand,” he said. “The brand will be strong.”

Shogun is a subsidiary of Santo, a private company that invests primarily in biotechnology and in final-stage research for the licensing of new drugs, according to the statement.

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