30 May 2013

EBOS buys leading Australian firm

9:19 am on 30 May 2013

Pharmaceuticals distributor EBOS Group is about to become New Zealand's third largest listed company as it purchases Australia's leading pharmaceuticals firm.

The $1.1 billion deal will push the company from accounting for just 1% of the benchmark NZX 50 to third place behind only Fonterra and Fletcher Building.

EBOS is buying the Australian operations of Symbion, currently owned by Hong Kong-based Zuellig Group.

Zuellig will become EBOS's largest shareholder with a 40% stake.

EBOS is already New Zealand's largest pharmacueticals distributor and owns operations in Australia.

Ebos managing director Mark Waller.

Ebos managing director Mark Waller. Photo: EBOS

EBOS managing director Mark Waller says the purchase is a very big deal in terms of both Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Waller says EBOS and Symbion are market leaders in their respective countries, and putting the two companies together will make both stronger.

Radio New Zealand's business editor says the purchase is a large bite for EBOS to digest but the company has a track record of making successful acquisitions.

It has bought 18 businesses in the last 12 years, most notably the 2007 purchase of the ProPharma and Healthcare Logistics businesses for more than $86 million, which it also bought from Zuellig.

In this latest purchase EBOS, will pay $367 million in cash, raising the funds from institutions and its existing shareholders. It will issue nearly $500 million worth of new EBOS shares to Zuellig and assume Symbion's exisiting $230 million in debt.