Belfast Telegraph

Sangers to be sold to Lloyds Pharmacy owner for £300ml

By Audrey Watson

Medical distribution company Sangers, which delivers around 100,000 pharmacy products to chemists in Northern Ireland every day, is to be sold as part of a £300m package.

Sangers owners UDG Healthcare are selling their drug distribution units across the province to Fortune 500 firm McKesson - the San Francisco company that owns Lloyds Pharmacy - for €407.5m.

The sale is subject to a review by the European Competition Commission and is also dependent on shareholder approval, to be decided on October 13.

If approved, the deal is expected to complete by March 2016.

The funds from the acquisition will be used to repay UDG's €142m (£103m) bank debt.

It will also finance the further expansion of its healthcare consultancy business.

Sangers, which is based in Castlereagh, made pre-tax profits of £77.6m on a turnover of £221m in the year to September 2014. The company currently employs more than 200 people.

It has been supplying pharmaceutical and healthcare products to both retail and hospital pharmacies across Northern Ireland for 150 years.

Dublin company UDG Healthcare, meanwhile, is a provider of outsourced commercialisation solutions to healthcare firms.

It is selling its supply chain - of which Sangers forms a part - and MASTA businesses, which offer travel health consultations and other services, to focus on other areas.

These include its higher-growth, higher-margin international healthcare services businesses, such as Ashfield, which deals with contract sales and marketing, Sharp - its packaging division - and Aquilant, which deals with sales and distribution to the meditech industry.

UDG said the move would transform the firm into a more focused international healthcare services business. Speaking to the HealthInvestor website, UDG chairman Peter Gray added: "The announcement is the culmination of 15 years of strategic development by the group. 

"It gives us the resources to continue building our higher-margin, higher-growth divisions, while placing our legacy supply chain services business in the ownership of a global leader who will bring new opportunities and strengths to that business, its staff and its customers, to whom we extend our thanks for their loyalty."

UDG Healthcare also announced that its current chief executive, Liam FitzGerald, would retire on March 31 next year, after 15 years in the role. He will be succeeded by the current group chief operating officer, Brendan McAtamney.

Sangers was originally known as Thomas McMullan and Co, but it changed its name in the early 1980s. Its Irish parent, United Drug Chemical Co, was established in 1948 in Ballina by a group of pharmacists.

Belfast Telegraph