CCPC to take in-depth look at Uniphar’s acquisition of NaviCorp

Move necessary to establish if deal could reduce competition in the State, watchdog says

Uniphar’s acquisition of Irish-headquartered pharmacy solutions business NaviCorp is to move to a full phase-two investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

The acquisition was announced in December in tandem with the acquisitions of UK-based pharmaceutical marketing agency E4H and pharmaceutical distributor Devonshire Healthcare Services.

A total investment figure for the three purchases was not disclosed, but Uniphar said each acquisition included an up-front payment plus further consideration payable upon achievement of certain financial hurdles.

The deals were expected to deliver a return on capital employed to the group in line with Uniphar’s target rate of 12-15 per cent within three years.

However, in a statement on Friday, the CCPC said it has decided to carry out a full phase-two investigation into the proposed acquisition of NaviCorp on grounds that it could substantially lessen competition in the State.

“Following an extended preliminary investigation, the CCPC has determined that a full investigation is required in order to establish if the proposed transaction could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the State,” it said.

“The CCPC will publish its phase-one determination no later than 60 working days after the date of the determination and after allowing the parties the opportunity to request that confidential information be removed from the published version.”

At the time of the announcement, Uniphar chief executive Ger Rabbette said: Navi's highly sophisticated digital offering will be leveraged throughout the supply chain and retail division and demonstrates our commitment to delivering a differentiated and market-leading service offering."

John Carroll, chief executive of Navi, said: "Navi and Uniphar have been partners for many years and share a common goal – to provide best-in-class services to community pharmacy, driven by innovative digital solutions. We are looking forward to working together to drive innovation across the sector."

The acquisition had been expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter