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Paladin partners with Litha, aid merge of South African pharmas

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Montreal-based Paladin Labs has formed a strategic partnership to accelerate its buyout of the remaining shares of South Africa-based Pharmaplan and merge the business with the pharma division of Litha Healthcare Group, based in South Africa.

Paladin will acquire the 55.01% of Pharmaplan, which it does not currently own. Litha will then acquire 100% of the share capital of Pharmaplan from Paladin in exchange for cash and the issuance of 169,090,909 shares in Litha at $0.36 per share. Paladin has also agreed to acquire an additional 72,989,078 shares of Litha from the Blackstar Group at $0.36 per share. Paladin will deploy an anticipated $48 million in cash and issue 88,948 shares at $44.97 per share to complete the combined transactions. As a result, Paladin will own 44.52% of Litha, making it Litha’s single largest shareholder upon closing.

This represents Paladin’s most significant expansion to date and is a decisive move to build critical mass and competitive differentiation in the South African pharmaceutical market, which is currently valued at over $3.3 billion, an increase of 10% over 2010.

“This strategic partnership with Litha creates a stronger and more diversified commercial platform from which to extend our footprint in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Mark Beaudet, interim president and CEO of Paladin Labs. “The combination creates a locally empowered business with the commercial breadth to be a leader in the rapidly growing African healthcare markets of interest to us. Our combined focus on business development, sales and marketing and broad healthcare interests via pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medical devices will make us a formidable competitor for the long run on the African continent.”

The strategic partnership between Paladin and Litha will build scale and open up further direct international licensing opportunities for the Litha Pharma Division, increasing deal flow and product acquisition opportunities. Moreover, with the combination of Pharmaplan, the Litha Pharma Division will become the Litha Healthcare Group’s second largest division by revenue and most profitable by earnings. 

“The merging of our pharma division with Pharmaplan will not only boost our current product portfolio revenues, but also broaden our access to international pipelines and improve our current platform for expansion into new markets including biotech, oncology and aesthetic medicine.” said Selwyn Kahanovitz, CEO of Litha Healthcare Group.

Dr. Gert Hoogland, founder and CEO of Pharmaplan, will head up the Litha Pharma Division, reporting to the Litha Healthcare Group’s Kahanovitz. In order to leverage strategic synergies and intra-company collaboration, Litha has also asked Hoogland, together with Beaudet and Mark Nawacki, Paladin’s vice president of business and corporate development, to join Litha’s board of directors effective the closing date. 

The transaction is expected to be accretive to Paladin’s EBITDA immediately upon closing. The transaction is subject to certain regulatory approvals including South African competition review and approval by shareholders of Litha and is expected to close on July 2, 2012.

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