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October 11, 2014

British Pakistani group acquires pharmacy business in £725m deal


October 11, 2014

LONDON: A British Pakistani business group has made history by making a payment of £725 million for the acquisition of a pharmacy business as this transaction is the largest all sterling acquisition financing in the UK in the last 2 years.
Zameer Choudrey, Bestway Group Chief Executive and CEO, told The News in an interview about taking formal control of the Co-operative Group’s Pharmacy business which also included acquiring around 8,000 employees working for it.
He said: “Following this (and with the Group’s subsequent acquisition of Lafarge Pakistan Cement Limited a week after the announcement of The Co-operative Pharmacy deal), Bestway will now have an annual turnover of approximately £3.6 billion and a global workforce of 33,000 people, with over 11,900 people in the UK. It is the UK’s eighteenth largest privately owned company and seventh largest family-owned business.
“We were also pleased with the positive response to our fundraising. In the end our Group Corporate facility of £725 million was well received by the market. The fact that our credit was significantly oversubscribed really showed the City’s enthusiasm for our strategy, as well as their trust and confidence in the Group and its strong prospects for long-term, profitable growth. We truly value the commitment and dedication all our partners have demonstrated throughout the process. They played a big role in helping Bestway Group to succeed in acquiring the Pharmacy business.”
Zameer Choudrey said that the business expansion will come through growth opportunities in a number of key areas, such as increasing the branch network of pharmacies, developing and growing the business’ OTC range and introducing other new healthcare services.
He said that the Bestway has over 50 years of experience when it comes to expanding into new sectors and making a success of it. “We knew we would be debt-free around this time, and so two years ago we started to explore other

sectors. We identified the UK healthcare market as its potential great. The sector is very fragmented (c. 45% of pharmacies are independently owned) and we see considerable opportunity for consolidation and growth. Moreover, demographic trends are encouraging as the population size is increasing and people are living longer, showing that there will be increasing demand for healthcare services. Recently the opportunity to buy the Co-operative Pharmacy business was brought to our attention. It is a strong, competitive business (the 3rd largest Pharmacy in the UK) and renowned for the best customer service levels in the sector. It has 770 branches nationwide, which are strategically sited in excellent locations providing easy access to customers.
He said that Bestway’s Cement division is Pakistan’s largest cement manufacturer with an annual capacity of 8 million tonnes. Bestway’s banking division is Pakistan’s second largest private bank with assets under management of $10.3 billion and a branch network of over 1,400 branches serving over five million customers. We are also in the process of setting up a Waste Heat Recovery Power Plant at our cement site in Hattar.”
He said that investment into the pharmacy sector is one that will benefit the UK community as a whole, including British Pakistanis. “As the business grows, we will be generating more and more employment opportunities, creating more jobs amongst communities nationwide.”

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