Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Finablr and NMC Health founder B R Shetty plans another IPO

Exclusive: UAE-based pharmaceuticals firm Neopharma looks at London listing in 2022

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - May 23 2019. Dr BR Shetty, founder of BRS Ventures, Finablr and NMC Health (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) Reporter: SARAH TOWNSEND Section: NA
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - May 23 2019. Dr BR Shetty, founder of BRS Ventures, Finablr and NMC Health (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) Reporter: SARAH TOWNSEND Section: NA

B R Shetty, the billionaire founder of UAE-born firms NMC Health and Finablr, which listed in London last week, is planning an initial public offering of another of his firms, Neopharma, as he looks to grow and diversify globally.

Pharmaceuticals manufacturer Neopharma, established in 2003 under Mr Shetty’s private investment vehicle BRS Ventures, is eyeing a listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2022, the founder told The National in an interview on Thursday.

“The aim is to expand the company further and give more value and benefit to its shareholders,” Mr Shetty said. “We want it to be a global player and my vision is for it to be among the top 12 biggest pharma firms in the world in the coming years.”

Neopharma operates in 50 countries across the Middle East, Africa, eastern Europe, Far East and South East Asia. The company started with a single manufacturing plant in Abu Dhabi and has since built a second facility in the UAE in addition to acquiring various businesses that have enabled it to widen its manufacturing operations in the US, Japan, India, Russia, Brazil and Bangladesh.

Last October, its US subsidiary acquired an antibiotic entity in Tennessee. That same month, a joint venture between Neopharma’s Indian subsidiary Omnicare Drugs India and India’s Laxai Life Sciences acquired a plant that manufactures ingredients for pharmaceuticals in Hyderabad. Omnicare also entered into a joint venture with Japan’s ASKA Pharmaceuticals to produce tablets and medicines in India, with a view to starting operations in 2020.

Neopharma is looking to acquire new companies, Mr Shetty said. He declined to provide details on the company’s turnover and other financial performance, but said it had achieved “phenomenal success”.

The global healthcare industry is growing rapidly in line with population growth, longer lifespans and the emergence of health issues linked to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. The industry's growth has piqued investors’ interest, with many opting to back medical technology and other firms that seek to plug a gap in healthcare provision while an economic slowdown squeezes state budgets.

Global revenues from pharmaceutical manufacturers were forecast to reach $1.85 trillion by 2018, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan the year earlier.

Mr Shetty’s other healthcare business, NMC Health, listed on the LSE in 2012. The company expanded in Saudi Arabia last year and continues to scout for investment opportunities in Africa, the UK and Europe, Mr Shetty said.

Finablr, the UAE-based holding company for brands including Travelex, UAE Exchange and Xpress Money, that garnered investor attention this month with its debut on the LSE, plans to spend $200m this year on upgrading financial technology platforms on which the currency houses operate. The company's London IPO last week valued the firm at $1.6bn and attracted institutional investors including Blackrock, Columbia Threadneedle and Norges Bank.

Shares were sold at a revised offer price below the previously indicated range, due to market volatility. Global stock markets tumbled two days before the listing, as the trade dispute between the US and China intensified

Finablr has existing partnerships with technology players like Google and China’s WeChat, that aim to streamline its remittance and money exchange services.

The group is in talks with another major technology firm to form a digital operations-based tie-up, but Mr Shetty declined to reveal details. London-listed Travelex and UAE-based Xpress Monday continue to seek expansion opportunities in new markets.

London remains Mr Shetty’s preferred market for IPOs, “because it has a lot of liquidity” and high transparency, which attracts quality investors, he said.

Updated: May 24, 2019 12:50 AM

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