United Drug heading for another acquisitive year

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United kingdom

United Drug has just purchased two UK services firms for a sum of
£14.4m, in a continuation of what has been a highly-acquisitive
past year for the ambitious firm.

The Irish pharma wholesaler bought Universal Conference and Incentive Travel as well as Business Edge Solutions and Training, both which will now be integrated into the healthcare services firm´s growing contract sales and marketing services unit, in a bid to further expand the service offering. Based in Slough, Universal offers event management services within the UK to pharmaceutical firms. The company also has a presence in the US where it generates half its revenue by providing the same services. Meanwhile, Hertfordshire-based Business Edge Solutions and Training provides sales and team-effectiveness training programmes for pharma firms within the UK. The two acquired businesses employ a total of 150 staff, who will all transfer with the businesses over to the new ownership. In addition to the cash purchase price, United has agreed to pay an additional £2.75m upon the reaching of certain targets over the next three years. With the two purchases, the company appears to be continuing last year's shopping spree, where it snapped up a string of ancillary services firms to broaden its business mix and stay competitive in the evolving and consolidating European distribution market. In November, United announced the acquisition of Procon Conferences for £4.2m, UK company that also specialises in corporate event management for the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. At the time the purchase gave the firm entry into yet another niche pharma services market and was absorbed into the company's contract sales division. The two recent acquisitions are similar in nature and build upon the new service offering that United was able to begin offering through the addition of Procon. Meanwhile, in October, United paid up to $10.5m (€6.7m) in cash to gain complete ownership of US company Alliance Healthcare Information, a pharma sales and marketing services provider. Moreover, this time last year the firm made its first foray beyond Ireland and the UK into mainland Europe, with the purchase of Budelpack, and this was followed by the acquisition of another packaging firm in Europe, Pharma Logistics Investments (PLI), in August.

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