French Drugs Maker Targets Africa With Nigerian Acquisition

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APRIL 6, 2017 – Biogaran SAS, a closely held French pharmaceuticals manufacturer, plans to tap into Nigeria’s $1.3 billion drugs market as a launchpad for its expansion into Africa, company President Pascal Briere said.

The unit of France’s second-largest drug maker, Les Laboratoires Servier, last month acquired Nigeria’s Swipha Ltd. after an initial $500,000 investment. Biogaran expects Nigeria’s pharmaceuticals industry to grow by more than 12 percent annually.

“We found that Nigeria is well adapted for what we want to do,” Briere said in an April 3 telephone interview from Paris. “We decided to invest when the recession was in its worst moment.”

Nigeria’s drug-manufacturing companies have struggled to source raw materials and imported inputs because of a foreign-currency squeeze caused by the plunge in income from oil, its main export, as prices fell from 2014 and militant attacks cut output to record lows. Briere is optimistic that Nigeria’s economy will soon recover after it fell by 1.5 percent last year, its first contraction in a quarter century. Inflation has accelerated to 17.8 percent.

“It’s a bet on the future for sure,” he said of the company’s investment in Nigeria, adding that opportunities are also being explored in Ivory Coast and Kenya. To start with, the company plans to use “Nigeria as a base to export to other West African countries,” Briere said.

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