Abraaj scouts for Africa healthcare deals after Uganda buy
DUBAI Jan 30 (Reuters) - Abraaj Capital is scouting for more acquisitions in Africa's healthcare industry, a senior executive said on Wednesday, after the emerging markets private equity firm invested in Uganda's biggest pharmacy chain.
Abraaj, which manages around $7.5 billion in assets, announced an investment in Vine Pharmaceuticals through its Africa Health Fund. It did not provide any financial details of the investment.
"Healthcare in Africa remains a huge opportunity. We have made a number of investments already and are currently in discussions with other targets for potential funding and should be in a position to close additional transactions through the year," said Shakir Merali, a Nairobi-based partner at Abraaj.
"The ability of people in the continent to spend on healthcare is increasing and the demand, given the infrastructure deficit, is substantial."
The Africa health fund was set up in 2009 with the International Finance Corp, The African Development Bank, DEG, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as cornerstone investors.
The health fund was initially launched by Aureos Capital. Abraaj bought emerging market fund manager Aureos Capital last year aiming to boost its small and medium-sized businesses in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Vine Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1999 and operates 21 stores in Uganda and a pharmaceutical import business, Abraaj said in a statement.
"The majority of retail pharmacy businesses in Africa are very fragmented. With the right type of investment and on-the-ground engagement, you have the ability to create substantial institutions in a relatively short period of time," Merali said.
Abraaj owns stakes in firms such as Egypt's Orascom Construction, budget carrier Air Arabia and supermarket chain Spinneys. (Reporting by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Amran Abocar)