Private Equity Firm to Invest $18m in Nigeria’s Pharmacy Chain, HealthPlus

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Nume Ekeghe

Alta Semper Capital LLP, a private equity manager based in London with a specialisation in investing flexible and strategic capital across select African growth markets, Tuesday announced a partnership with Nigeria’s leading retail pharmacy chain HealthPlus.

Under the terms of the agreement, Alta Semper will be investing $18 million in HealthPlus, which will enable the company to expand its retail footprint and enhance its competitive position, according to BusinessWire.

Alta Semper focuses on investing in market-leading businesses in defensive sub-sectors within the consumer and healthcare verticals.

The healthcare and retail markets in Nigeria are characterised by growing demand, driven by favourable demographics, increased consumer awareness and evolving consumption patterns.
Furthermore, Nigeria is home to one of the least penetrated formal retail markets in the world, despite its large and growing population.

The retail pharmacy sector is highly fragmented, with many independent drug stores and several patent medicine outlets.
Given structural challenges in the industry supply chain, counterfeit pharmaceuticals find their way into over 40 per cent of the retail market, while most wholesale and retail sales across the country are still made through informal markets.

Much of the healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria is also confined to major cities, with people living in urban areas having approximately four times as much access to healthcare as those living in rural areas.

The investment into HealthPlus will enable the company to capture the pent-up demand for high-quality yet affordable healthcare and professional beauty supplies by developing regional distribution centres in commercial hubs across Nigeria, rapidly expanding the company’s footprint across the country as well as developing a wholesale channel and investing in private label and e-commerce.

This transaction marks Alta Semper’s first investment in Nigeria.
HealthPlus was founded in 1999 by Mrs. Olubukunola (Bukky) Adewunmi George, a Nigerian and UK-trained pharmacist with over 25 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, who has organically grown the business into the leading pharmacy chain and retailer of beauty supplies in West Africa.
The company’s quest is to provide the Nigerian consumer with high-quality, life-saving and affordable products and services.

It also aims to make a meaningful and lasting impact by contributing its quota to the achievement of universal healthcare coverage and to increasing life expectancy for all Nigerians.
The company targets a broad base of consumers through the provision of healthcare products such as prescription and over-the-counter medicines, nutritional supplements, natural remedies, home medical equipment, mobility aids and pharmacy services.

HealthPlus employs over 700 people, including 150 pharmacists, with at least two pharmacists dispensing prescription medicines and providing counselling, free health screenings and value-adding pharmacy services at each pharmacy.
It operates about 80 branches in strategically located residential areas, shopping centres and airports across 11 of the 36 states in Nigeria.

HealthPlus has one of the highest brand recognition and ratings of any consumer company in Nigeria.
Its dedication and professionalism have been recognised with several excellence awards.
Commenting on the investment, Bukky George said: “We believe Alta Semper is the right partner for our next stage of growth.

“Alta Semper’s focus on the healthcare sector, as well as its ability to invest patient and flexible capital, will allow us to grow strategically across Nigeria and further our mission to provide high quality and affordable healthcare products and services to a market that is large and growing.

“Our vision is to be Africa’s #1 for pharmacy, wellness and beauty. We believe we have found a partner who can help us achieve this goal over the coming years.”

Managing Partner & CEO of Alta Semper, Afsane Jetha, said: “We are very excited about our partnership with HealthPlus, a remarkable example of a homegrown company that has become one of the largest specialty retailers in West Africa.

“We believe HealthPlus is well-positioned to take advantage of the grossly underpenetrated Nigerian pharmacy retail market and meet the growing demands of Nigerian consumers, as well as to expand regionally into neighbouring countries.

“We believe that this is an opportune time to enter the Nigerian retail market and invest into a market-leading player such as HealthPlus, which presents a unique risk-adjusted entry strategy, given its existing size and geographic scope.
“We are looking forward to working closely with Bukky George and her team to further unlock the company’s growth potential.”

Alta Semper Capital LLP is an FCA authorised and regulated investment manager based in London.
The private equity firm was founded in 2015 by Afsane Jetha (former Managing Director of the Africa Private Equity platform at the Duet Group), Ronald Lauder (former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and current Chairman of Clinique Laboratories), and Richard Parsons (former CEO of Time Warner Group and current Chairman of the Board of the Rockefeller Foundation).
The investment in HealthPlus marks the firm’s second investment in the healthcare sector in Africa, after its investment into Macro Pharmaceuticals in Egypt in 2017.