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Zentiva’s prescription for central European growth

A management buyout, a large merger, an IPO, regional acquisitions and investment by Europe’s largest pharmaceuticals player – the past eight years have been anything but dull for the Czech Republic’s Zentiva. Company CFO Petr Sulc talks to Kathryn Wells about the challenges the company has faced and how it plans to finance further growth.

PETR SULC, CHIEF financial officer of Czech pharmaceuticals producer Zentiva
“Our strategy remains the same: growth by acquisition and through organic means within Europe, and especially central and eastern Europe. We look for a balance between profit and growth”
Petr Sulc, Zentiva

PETR SULC, CHIEF financial officer of Czech pharmaceuticals producer Zentiva, has just returned to Prague after a two-day trip to New York. A packed schedule of 23 meetings in just 48 hours was testament to investor interest in his company, the first from the Czech Republic to have completed an IPO, and the beneficiary more recently of an investment by Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi, the world’s third-largest (and Europe’s largest) pharmaceuticals producer, invested €430 million, equivalent to a 24.9% stake, in Zentiva in March 2006. Sitting in Zentiva’s space-age office complex several kilometres outside central Prague, Sulc reflects on the company’s hectic rate of progress. It has evolved, since a management buyout and the arrival of private equity investor Warburg Pincus in 1998, via a name and structural change in 2003 from Leciva to Zentiva that allowed the acquisition and integration of Slovak counterpart Slovakofarma in 2003, and a ground-breaking IPO in 2004, into a leading regional competitor.

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