Pharma Part4

Pharma Distribution M&A Opportunity


Having unlocked the last part of this Theme Vitrine , here is the deal:


Uzbekistan brief

With a population of 35mil, Uzbek economy is much larger and more industrialized than Kyrgyz or Mongolian. So while Uzbekistan also has some serious mineral deposits including the world’s largest open pit gold mine Muruntau, it does not overwhelmingly depend on them minerals.

The pharmaceutical market is estimated at $1.3bil including the offshore vehicles setup to bypass price controls (mark up margin ceilings). This translates to a pharma market of +/- $37 per capita.

The Uzbek government has been trying to develop the local pharma manufacturing as an import substitution policy, with $600mil invested during 2010-15, local tax preferences and lower interest on loans.



The Uzbek market is the most regulated among the four countries we are showcasing, yet it is also one of the most enterprising with a large pie available & growing (see a regulation brief ).

While there are numerous local manufacturers (150 companies, 30 out of them are foreign joint ventures), imports are still at a high 80% (western 33%, CIS 25%, India 15%). There is also plenty of quasi-local M&A activity going on, whereby some of the players seem to be positioning themselves for the ‘inevitable’ market opening.!?

The $1.3bil is further broken into 50% generic drugs, 25% branded drugs and 25% OTC, produced or distributed by 300 registered pharma companies. Among those there are about 70 wholesalers including the top market players: Grand pharm (private market leader, Dori-Darmon (state-owned), Asia trade, Asklepiy, ATM partners, Medicare, Pharmed, Lahisam, Atlas pharm, Farmexx, Quramax medical, Med import.

There are over 4,000 pharmacies: with Dori-Damon being the largest with 0ver 500 outlets (most not operational, conserved), and others including Grand pharm (240 under Grandpharm, Aziapharm & Bestpharm brands), Oximed, Medicare, Propharma, Technopharm, Novo pharma, Jurabek.

Aakelepy group of five pharma businesses: wholesale distribution (Askelepiy), pharmacy chain (Oximed), newest local pharma production (Nika), herbal tea production (Zamona rano) and marketing (Mari pharm). The origins started from Mr.Talibov as pharmacist turned pharma trade businessman after the split of the USSR. Then in a similar fashion like in the other markets, vertical components have been added – retail, production, etc. in the new millennia.

Over the last decade or so, Oxymed grew from 25 pharmacies to 40 by adding Nika outlets, and then with further market consolidation of smaller or independent players increased its network to over 120. The ambition is to compete head-to-head with Grand pharma’s 240 pharmacies. Note that until Dori-Damon is fully privatized, it remains largely a place where shops or people can be taken by more enterprising private companies.


The company / group has significant potential as an internal and cross-border consolidator platform (not necessarily Uzbek by domicile) due to its dynamic nature, international distribution channels and mare size of own market, say compared to the Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Tajik or for that matter Kazakh colleagues.


Armenia brief

Yet another landlocked country in our sample, but much smaller in land size, with a population roughly the same as Mongolia at 3.3mil. On the other hand, like Kyrgyzstan, it has a large diaspora whereby the remittances have contributed to the development of this emerging market (GDP/capita PPP at $10k+ in 2019).

Armenia’s pharma industry is relatively well developed, but still growing faster than the economy (6 vs. 5%).

Again like in the rest of the CACA region, it is heavily dependent on imported drugs.

The total market size is probably just below that of Kyrgyzstan at some $150mil (generating a relatively high regional $45/pop).



A rather well structured & developed pharma wholesale market constitutes for more than ¾rs of the value chain. Top five wholesale distributors (of the 35+/- total) control approximately 2/3rds of the market. Natali pharm & Alfa pharm being the leaders with about 20-25% each.

The retail market is slowly consolidating but still quite nascent in terms of development. A largely fragmented retail market probably has a 1,000 outlets operating across the country, of which Alfa (120), Natali (100), 911 (30?), etc. The retailers have traditionally been equally sharing the mark-up margin (20-25%) with the wholesalers.

Alfa Pharm is a leading integrated pharmaceutical company serving both the wholesale distributors and the retail pharmacies in Armenia. It was founded in 1996 through a small pharmacy merger of six companies initially, and then adding up more pharmacists over the years.

As an Armenian market leader it was always a good target for larger CIS companies in the industry, such as Russian 36.6° or Ukranian Apteka Nizkih Cen pharma chains, which were both on shopping sprees some years ago, but in their own countries. Acquisitions ranged for chains from 5 to 50 outlets, or $3 to 33mil in revenue; something that on the higher end almost ranks a leader in most of our CACA markets.


Alfa Pharm has an atypical shareholding structure, i.e. it is not family and/or friends owned, so it has proper corporate governance in place and has been involved in innovative financing in the past. As such it represents a relatively good target for a bolt-on acquisition

Theme Contribution

Madina Umarova

Experienced consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the industry. Skilled in commercial and nonprofit settings for business development, HR, marketing & administration.

Madina also is:

  • Vice president, head of economic group (CIS), Coordinating Council of Russian compatriots in Croatia
  • Founder of the Russian culture club in Croatia
  • Teacher of Russian language and literature (& business comm)

And was:

  • KPMG senior office administrator
  • Professor at Law university
  • Club administrator
  • Cello instructor


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