Lloyds pharmacies and United Drug sold to billionaire Merckle family from Germany

Chain of 90 Lloyds chemists among a slew of European assets sold by US group McKesson

Lloyds is the second largest pharmacy chain in the Irish market after Boots. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Lloyds is the second largest pharmacy chain in the Irish market after Boots. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

US pharmaceuticals group McKesson Corp has agreed to sell its Irish business, which includes the 90-outlet chain of Lloyds pharmacies and the United Drug wholesale group. McKesson Ireland also includes TCP Homecare, which provides nurses, and Media Healthcare, which sells drugs to nursing homes.

McKesson announced its exit from the Irish market as part of a deal to sell its operations in eight European countries to the Phoenix pharma group controlled by the billionaire Merckle family from Germany. As well as the operations in Ireland, Phoenix has also bought McKesson’s units in France, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia.

The deal also includes McKesson’s German headquarters in Stuttgart; German wound-care business RecuCare; a back office operation in Lithuania; and its 45 per cent stake in Brocacef, a pharmacy supplies business in the Netherlands.

The Irish business has a turnover estimated at about €2 billion and employs about 1,800 staff here, including more than 900 in Lloyds, which is the second largest pharmacy chain in the market after Boots.

United Drug employs about 650 staff, while TCP has about 165 staff, including 90 nurses.

McKesson said its businesses in the UK, where it also owns Lloyds, Norway, Austria and Denmark are not included in the deal, which is scheduled to close next year. However, it suggested they remain up for sale as part of a “strategic review” over their future. It is also retaining a minority stake in a German joint venture with Walgreens Boots Alliance.

McKesson’s head office in the US declined on Thursday to comment further on the deal to sell the Irish business. The company did not disclose the value of the deal.

Reverses

The move largely reverses McKesson’s $8.3 billion (€7bn) purchase of Celesio in 2014. Bloomberg reported in June that McKesson was in talks to sell its European operations to Phoenix and was also in discussions to offload the UK arm to a private equity firm. Bloomberg Intelligence had estimated that McKesson’s continental European and UK businesses combined could be valued at $3 billion to $4 billion.

Texas-based McKesson is one of three dominant drug distributors in the US, alongside AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, and has played a key role in distributing Covid-19 vaccines.

The company said earlier this year that delivering vaccines and other supplies for fighting the virus would lead to stronger earnings in 2021. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg