Long-term vision

Acino anticipates buyout by private equity firms for $439 million

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AASCH, Switzerland—Acino Holding AG, a Swiss drugmaker, has agreed to be acquired by two private equity firms—Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital—for about $439 million. The sale will give Acino Group, a publicly traded Swiss maker of generic drugs and drug delivery systems, the investment capital that it needs to expand, according to the company.
In the last year, the pharmaceutical industry has seen a great deal of private equity M&A activity. Avista and Nordic are among a growing group of private equity outfits that have been busy as of late. The situation could turn into a win-win for everybody concerned, company officials say.
“This transaction combines compelling value to our shareholders with a long-term vision for Acino and its employees,” says Acino Chairman Luzi A. von Bidder. He adds that the new ownership will put Acino in a position to “further develop its growth strategy,” which focuses on its “core competence in advanced drug delivery as a pivotal value driver, and its expanding presence in the emerging markets.”
According to von Bidder, “Avista and Nordic Capital are well-suited partners for Acino.  They have proven ‘buy and build’ capabilities and the financial resources that will significantly enhance Acino’s growth opportunities.”
Dr. Håkan Björklund is expected to become Acino’s new chairman of the board. Björklund is an industry expert with Avista and is chairman of the Danish pharmaceutical company H. Lundbeck. From 1999 to 2011, he served as CEO of Nycomed under the ownership of Avista, Nordic Capital and other institutional shareholders.
“We are convinced that the company provides an ideal platform for organic growth and add-on acquisitions. Avista and Nordic Capital have the expertise and the capital to contribute to a long-term growth strategy,” Björklund says. “We are committed to providing the resources needed to develop Acino into an international specialty pharmaceutical business with a significant presence in attractive markets and product lines.”
According to Acino, Avista and Nordic Capital “are prepared to commit substantial capital as well as utilize their experienced global healthcare network to expand upon Acino’s growth strategy and fully capitalize on future opportunities.” The investors also want Acino to continue operating its main sites in Switzerland and Germany, the company says. Acino’s board says it is “convinced that substantial financial resources are required to further exploit the potential of the company’s in-house innovation, drive sales growth, support profit improvements and successfully strengthen its competitive position.” 
Acino has 788 employees and generated revenues of $194.3 million in the first half of 2013. In recent years, Acino has evolved from a Central European pharmaceutical supplier into a more diversified pharmaceutical company with worldwide operations. The company has based its growth strategy around driving value from its core competence in advanced drug delivery and expanding its presence in emerging markets. Acino markets its medicines in 80 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia under the “Acino Switzerland” brand.
Acino’s board unanimously supports the acquisition, which will come with the funds required to expand its business and pursue its long-term growth strategy, the company says. For the drug-delivery specialist, that strategy involves introducing products, like its patch for symptomatic dementia treatment, around the world. The company’s German subsidiary, Acino AG, develops and produces transdermal therapeutic systems, biodegradable subcutaneous drug implants and implantable drug delivery systems. Its products include therapeutic patches for the treatment of chronic pain; drugs for heart, circulatory and respiratory tract diseases; transdermal systems for contraception and treating CNS diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome; hormone replacement therapies; and various pain patches and implants for treating prostate cancer.
Björklund says he and the proposed new owners have followed Acino “for quite some time, [and] we are convinced that the company provides an ideal platform for organic growth and add-on acquisitions.”

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