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Celesio to raise stake in Brazil's Panpharma-sources
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Europe's largest drugs distributor Celesio (CLSGn.DE) is set to significantly boost its stake in Brazil's largest drugs distributor Panpharma from currently 50.1 percent, two people with the matter said.
"It will go toward 100 percent," one of the people, who is familiar with the plans, told Reuters.
Celesio declined to comment on the matter.
In 2009, Celesio bought a majority in Panpharma from the Panarello family for 125 million euros ($165 million) with the right to buy more shares at a later date, its first major expansion step outside Europe.
Celesio last year also took control of Oncoprod, a Brazilian cancer drug distributor.
Celesio's new chief executive Markus Pinger said in December he had his sights trained on further takeovers in Latin America or in the Middle East in the face of sluggish growth in the company's home market.
Pinger views Colombia, Argentina and Peru as attractive target countries, in addition to Celesio's beachhead market Brazil, he said at the time but added he would prefer to do such deals in 2013 and 2014 and focus on internal efficiency in 2012.
Brazil's market for pharmaceuticals is seen as one of the world's fastest-growing, with market researcher IMS Health forecasting it will rank sixth in the world by 2015, up from the No.10 spot in 2005.
Sales at Celesio's Panpharma rose 3.9 percent, below market growth, to 1.154 billion euros in the first nine months of 2011 due to price increases and currency effects, according to the latest financial reports. No figures for the fourth quarter are available.
In Celesio's home market, government cuts to drugs reimbursement triggered a price war among drugs distributors, forcing it to slash its outlook three times last year.
Pinger, who took over from ousted ex-CEO Fritz Oesterle, in October announced a radical shake up to address sliding earnings, two months after taking the helm.
He is reversing the diversification strategy of his predecessor to focus on drugs wholesale and running pharmacy chains such as Britain's' Lloyds Pharmacy while trying to expand geographically.
He is also resorting to cost cuts, seeking more synergies in its logistics network across Europe and broadening its offering to pharmacies to include services such as warehouse management.
He has put its DocMorris mail-order pharmacy up for sale as well as two service providers catering to drugmakers, Movianto and Pharmexx.
($1 = 0.7429 euros)
(Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger)
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