Celesio under no pressure to forge alliance - CEO

FRANKFURT Tue Oct 8, 2013 2:58am EDT

FRANKFURT Oct 8 (Reuters) - German drugs distributor Celesio is in no rush to forge an alliance or merger with a U.S. peer even though this would have some merits, its chief executive told a German newspaper.

Reuters reported in July that U.S. drugs distribution groups McKesson Corp and Cardinal Health were both in talks to possibly take a stake in Celesio.

"There is no urgent need for such an alliance (with a U.S. partner) even though it may indeed offer opportunities," CEO Marion Helmes was quoted as saying in the Tuesday edition of daily Boersen-Zeitung.

The merit of a transatlantic tie-up would mainly be to bulk up purchasing power to get better discounts from generic drugmakers, she added.

In March, pharmacy chain Walgreen Co and its European partner Alliance Boots signed a 10-year purchasing deal with AmerisourceBergen.

Celesio, active in both drugs wholesale and retail, has sped up the expansion of its network of pharmacies in continental Europe under the Lloyds brand, and aims to significantly increase its earnings next year, Helmes also said.

The price war among German drugs distributors, which forced Celesio to cut its full-year outlook in August, continues to rage but discounts have stabilised, she said.

"Obviously no drugs distributor in the German market is making money any more. That's why we expect more reasonable competition in 2014."