x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Jordanian drug maker Hikma confident in region

What's Up: Hikma, a Jordanian pharmaceutical company, has proven resilient to both the downturn in the US and civil unrest in its major Mena markets.

Hikma, a Jordanian pharmaceutical company, has proved resilient to both the downturn in the US and civil unrest in its major markets in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), and it shows no sign of slowing its ambitious growth plans this year.

Last year the stakes were high for Hikma, which in 2010 received 14 per cent of its total group sales from five Mena markets that were heavily disrupted last year - Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Yet the company reported group net sales rose 10.4 per cent to US$394 million in the first half of last year compared with the same period in 2010, the latest figures available, with growth of 14 per cent in Egypt despite the unrest there last year.

Hikma is aggressively building on this with ambitious expansion plans, including acquisitions and product development, which investors might heed more than the recent 1.27 per cent drop in the London-listed company's share price. In December, it signed a $110 million loan agreement with the International Finance Corporation, a private lending arm of the World Bank Group. The company said the nine-year loan facility would be used to support capital expenditure and expansion in the Mena region.

Last month, Hikma increased its stake in Moroccan company Promopharm from 63.9 per cent to 94.1 per cent. The company has also said it is committed to expanding its manufacturing capabilities in Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia, reflecting its optimism for the region.

Hikma is also growing organically through successful product marketing and development. The company ended last year by signing an exclusive agreement with a specialist Canadian oncology company, Aeterna Zentaris, for the registration and marketing of perifosine, its lead anti-cancer drug, for the Mena region. It began this year by securing the approval of its new drug application for Argatroban injection from the US Food and Drug Administration.


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