By THE AFRICA BAZAAR Staff Writer
As investors continue to flock to Africa looking for the best deals, private equity firms and businesses that entered the markets a decade or more ago are cashing in on their investments.
The Abraaj group on Thursday said it has sold its entire stake in Opalia Pharma, a Tunisian pharmaceutical company, to Recordati, an international pharmaceutical company listed on the Italian stock exchange for undisclosed amount.
Recordati also agreed to acquire a 90 percent stake in Opalia Pharma, in addition to Abraaj’s stake.
“The successful conclusion and the smooth overall process of this transaction is further evidence of the resilient deal-making environment that exists in North African countries, particularly in Tunisia. As regional economies continue to grow, there will be further attractive investment opportunities,” said Adel Goucha, director of the Abraaj Group.
The healthcare sector in Africa continues to attract investors, particularly the pharmaceutical market, which has seen uninterrupted growth in recent years, driven by favourable demographics and increasing GDP per capita. The penetration of generic drugs manufacturing, which has historically been low in North Africa, is now gradually increasing to European levels.
The deal completes Abraaj’s full exit from Opalia Pharma, which it first invested into in 2009 when it entered the Tunisian market and it marks the firm’s second investment exit this year in Africa: In July, it sold its stake in Ghana-based HFC Bank to Republic Bank Limited for an undisclosed amount.
This deal also follows two major investments the firm made this year in African pharmaceutical companies: In January, it announced it has invested in Vine Pharmaceuticals, a pharmacy retail chain in Uganda, followed by a second investment in Steripharma, a Moroccan pharmaceutical company that manufactures and sells pharmaceutical products in September.
Over the past four years, the firm’s involvement with Opalia Pharma, which was established in 1988, has helped increase sales by 2.5x, laying the necessary foundations for the next phase of expansion.
Headquartered in Ariana, Opalia Pharma is the third largest local pharmaceutical company and the eighth in the Tunisian pharmaceutical market. The company manufactures branded generic drugs with leading products in dermatology and in the gastrointestinal and respiratory therapeutic areas.
Ahmed Badreldin, partner, the Abraaj group said, “We invested in Opalia because the company had the right team and the right product mix. It is now time for a firm such as Recordati, a global player in pharmaceuticals, to take Opalia Pharma forward.”
The Abraaj group was advised by Société Générale Corporate and investment banking, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Meziou, Knani & Khlif.