Ghanian healthcare upstart to acquire Kenyan pharmacy chain

Ghanaian start-up mPharma is set to gain a controlling interest in Kenyan pharmacy chain Haltons in an unusual deal – fledgling startups are usually acquired by established businesses, rather than vice-versa. Halton’s was founded in 2007 and currently operates around a dozen outlets, most of which are located in Nairobi.

Founded in 2013, mPharma aims to improve the efficiency of pharmaceutical supply chains by purchasing medicines directly from manufacturers. This also minimises the risk that pharmacies will be supplied with counterfeit products. Its proprietary Vendor Management Inventory system is currently used by more than 250 pharmacies in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and it expects to close a USD12 million Series B funding round later this month.

Haltons is currently controlled by Fanisi Capital, a Nairobi-based private equity firm, but Halton’s senior management will retain a stake in the business. Various Kenyan media sources have reported that mPharma will pay around USD5 million to gain control of the chain, which earned revenues of USD1.5 million in 2018, according to Halton’s managing director Mary Ngige.

mPharma founder and CEO Gregory Rockson commented: “We’ve not always been able to control the customer experience and fully address the issue of drug affordability with our pharmacy clients, particularly because they manage their profit margins … Haltons will serve as a testing ground for us to develop patient-centered services we can provide to our franchise pharmacies. This way we can encourage lower margins and pass the savings on to the customers.”

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