12 de noviembre de 2015 / 9:05 / en 2 años

Brasil Pharma sells money-losing unit, seeks fresh capital

SAO PAULO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian drugstore chain Brasil Pharma SA has sold a money-losing subsidiary to a local investment firm for 44 million reais ($12 million), in an effort to return to profitability and cut debt.

BR Pharma, as the company is known, completed the sale of 100 percent of Drogaria Mais Econômica SA to Rio de Janeiro-based Verti Capital, according to a securities filing published on Thursday.

The company did not elaborate on terms of the transaction, such as whether the payment would be made in cash or in installments.

Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the transaction, that Verti Capital would pay for the acquisition over one to three years.

In addition, BR Pharma plans to raise between 400 million reais and 600 million reais through a so-called restricted-effort offering, setting a 0.40 real price floor for shares.

Restricted-effort offers differ from standard ones in that a firm does not have to request registration of the plan with regulators, only qualified investors can participate, and the deal cannot be marketed through road shows or the media.

BR Pharma declined to comment. Efforts to reach Verti Capital executives outside business hours were unsuccessful.

The sale of Mais Econômica, which according to the filing operates 165 stores in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, gives a respite to BR Pharma, which has struggled to integrate rival chains it has bought since 2009.

The company, created after the purchases of Rosario, Farmais, Sant‘Anna, Big Ben and Mais Economica pharmacy chains, has grappled with integration issues, high debt and rising competition.

BR Pharma is controlled by investment banking firm Grupo BTG Pactual SA and has more than 1,000 drugstores across Brazil. The company lost a net 169 million reais in the first six months of 2015, compared with a shortfall of about 328 million reais in the year-earlier period.

In a separate filing, BR Pharma also added that Orivaldo Padilha had stepped down as chief financial officer. Gilberto Palm Tavella Junior, a director at the company, will become CFO on an acting basis, the filing added. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Mark Potter)

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