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Sale of drug distribution company UDG Healthcare given the go-ahead

By Margaret Canning

Published 14/10/2015

Sangers employs around 220 people from its base at Marshall Road in Belfast
Sangers employs around 220 people from its base at Marshall Road in Belfast

The sale of the pharmaceutical distribution division of UDG Healthcare - which includes Sangers in Northern Ireland - has been approved.

Shareholders at UDG Healthcare, a FTSE 250 firm, approved the proposed €407.5m (£304m) sale of the division to global firm McKesson yesterday.

Sangers employs around 220 people from its base at Marshall Road in Belfast and is a major distributor of pharmaceutical products to high street chemists and hospital pharmacies.

It also has a depot in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

The company started out as a retail pharmacy known as Thomas McMullan and Co, but changed its name to Sangers in the early 1980s.

In the year to September 2014, it had pre-tax profits of £77.6m on turnover of £220.9m.

As well as the United Drug Sangers business, the deal also includes the United Drug Supply Chain Services business and TCP Group, as well as UK travel healthcare business MASTA.

McKesson, its new owners, are a global pharmaceutical wholesaler and retail pharmacy group, and one of the largest companies on the Fortune 500.

A spokeswoman said: "This is a significant inward investment to Ireland by a leading international company and McKesson is committed to maintaining and enhancing the businesses, while seeking out further opportunities for growth."

A spokeswoman said that the deal would transform UDG into a more focused international business which would be able to focus on its higher-margin businesses Ashfield, Sharp and Aquilant.

UDG said the sale to McKesson would enable its former businesses "to prosper under the ownership of a more integrated international wholesaler and retailer, benefiting from increased scale and efficiencies".

Last year McKesson bought Celesio, which owns Lloyds Pharmacy, and is set to buy 300 pharmacies from Sainsbury's.

Belfast Telegraph

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