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The Abraaj Group announces investment in Uganda’s biggest pharmacy chain

  • Investment will build Vine’s retail presence and wholesale business

Nairobi, Kenya, 30 January 2013: The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity investor operating in global growth markets, today announced an investment by its Africa Health Fund in Vine Pharmaceuticals, the largest pharmacy retail chain in Uganda.

The investment is the Africa Health Fund’s first in the pharmaceutical retail and distribution sector.  It will help Vine to expand its reach and market share in Uganda’s rapidly growing pharmaceutical market, where expenditure is growing at a CAGR of 13% and forecast to increase from the US$ 268 million spent in 2011 to US$ 545 million by 2014.

The Africa Health Fund was established in June 2009 with the International Finance Corporation, The African Development Bank, DEG, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as cornerstone investors.  The Fund’s unique objective is to improve the access of low-income Africans to affordable, high quality health services while providing investors with strong long-term financial returns.  The Africa Health Fund’s strategy is to tackle the issues of fragmentation in private healthcare provision and to drive economies of scale in supporting sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostic services.

Vine Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1999 and has grown to be the largest Ugandan pharmacy retailer, with 21 stores, 98 employees and a pharmaceutical import business. Abraaj will support Vine in extending its branch network outside Kampala, and building the capacity of its wholesale distribution business serving clinics, hospitals and other pharmacies.

Shakir Merali, Partner, The Abraaj Group, commented: “Vine will be an important beneficiary of the continued growth in pharmaceutical expenditure in Uganda through both its retail and wholesale businesses.”

“There will also be significant benefits for low-income Ugandans, with more consumers being put within easy reach of the basic health advice that a pharmacy can provide, and improvements to the availability of a comprehensive, up-to-date and affordable supply of drugs and other health products across the country.”

Grace Munyirwa, Founder and Director of Vine Pharmaceuticals, said:  “I am proud of the work our team has done to take Vine to its leading position in the Ugandan market, and I am looking forward to taking the business to the next level with Abraaj’s support.  Their expertise in the health sector and their track record of helping to grow businesses by investing in operational improvements and more sophisticated business management systems will make them the perfect partners as we expand our presence across the country and develop our promising wholesale business.”

The Abraaj Group is one of the leading private equity investors in the healthcare sector in growth markets around the world. Its Funds’ investments include stakes in the Philippines retail pharmacy chain HBC, and in Saudi Arabia’s Tadawi Group, both leaders in their local markets.  Additionally, the Group has current investments in nine hospitals (following two recent successful healthcare exits in Asia), as well as in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and medical devices manufacturing.