By Freya Berry
LONDON (Reuters) - European private equity fund CVC and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek [TEM.UL] are to buy a controlling stake in the pharmaceutical firm Alvogen, its chairman and chief executive said.
Robert Wessman, former CEO of Actavis, founded the New Jersey-based generic drugs firm in 2009.
The size of the stake the consortium purchased was not disclosed, but the deal values the company at around $2 billion, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The transaction is the latest sign of the hectic pace of deal-making in the healthcare sector, which has seen more than $250 billion of mergers and acquisitions so far this year, up nearly two-thirds from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Wessman sold a stake in Alvogen to the private equity fund Pamplona in 2014. The new owners also include U.S. investment group Vatera Healthcare Partners. Wessman and Pamplona will retain a stake.
The fast-growing company currently has 350 generic products on the market and has been pushing into the Asia-Pacific region with several acquisitions, including that of South Korea's Dream Pharma last year.
"We have grown from a small base in the U.S. back in 2009 to a global player with operations in 35 countries," Wessman told Reuters. "Our growth has been 76 percent a year in the past six years, a majority being organic, but with access to network and capital from our partners you should expect to see more acquisitions."
Generic drugmakers like Alvogen are looking to get bigger to enjoy economies of scale in manufacturing and distribution, while CVC has an interest in health through previous deals, such as a 2012 investment in Chinese drugmaker Venturepharma.
"We want to be a company that can build up one of the leading positions in Asia Pacific, and on a global level we expect to be among the leading companies in a few years from now," Wessman said.
He explained Alvogen's strategy as focusing on high-growth emerging markets, developing a "difficult to make" product portfolio in the U.S. market, and building a strong presence in copies of biotech drugs or biosimilars.
Generic drugs are manufactured once the patent for a branded drug has expired and sold far more cheaply than their original counterparts.
Wessman and his team face increasingly tough competition, as rivals also bulk up through takeovers or mergers, with Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA) currently in a $40 billion pursuit of Mylan (MYL.O).
Alvogen’s current revenue this year stands at $750 million, with core earnings (EBITDA) of $220 million.
CVC has just bought the theater production company Stage and the German perfume business Douglas, and recently hired Goldman Sachs (GS.N) dealmaker Alex Dibelius as a managing partner.
Jefferies acted as financial adviser to the investment consortium, while Goldman Sachs (GS.N) is providing the financing.
(Corrects Goldman role in final paragraph to show it is providing financing, not advising Alvogen and Pamplona, following clarification from the bank.)
(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jane Merriman)