RIGA - In a boost of confidence to Latvia's leading pharmaceuticals company, global mutual fund investment company Templeton Asset Management has acquired a significant number of shares in Grindeks, reports news agency LETA. Grindeks is the largest pharmaceutical company in the Baltic states. The company specializes in production and sales of cardiovascular, psychotropic and anticancer drugs, producing both final dosage form pharmaceuticals and active ingredients.
The company reported weak first half results, with net profits down by 32 percent, compared with last year's same period results. Profits registered 3.4 million lats (4.8 million euros); turnover of 29.8 million lats is 6.6 percent lower than for the first half of 2008. Despite an overall drop in demand for medications, sales in all CIS countries stayed at the same level as last year, except for Russia, where sales fell.
Templeton now holds five percent of the company's outstanding shares, which are listed on the NASDAQ OMX Riga exchange. Key shareholders remain Kirovs Lipmans and Anna Lipmane with a 50 percent share, Vitalijs Gavrilovs with 11.3 percent, Swedbank with 8.93 percent and SEB bank with 8.9 percent.
The company has four subsidiaries in Latvia, Estonia and Russia. Grindeks exports 96 percent of its products, its major markets being the Baltic states, Russia, the CIS countries, Japan and the U.S.
U.S. pharmaceutical company Generex Biotechnology Corporation has recently opened its representative office in Latvia, Generex Biotechnology Baltic, its first in Europe. Initial staffing is "less than five [people], but we expect to expand in the foreseeable future, says a company spokesman in an e-mail to The Baltic Times.
The company has ambitious plans for its Latvian office. After product registration processes are complete, "the company plans to begin export to all over Europe."
Company President Anna Gluskin does not rule out that in the future the company might decide to set up pharmaceutical production in Europe, in which case Latvia is considered to be the most suitable location.
The company chose to set up the offices in Latvia for several reasons, including the advantageous geographical location of the country, with its "vast possibilities as a gateway into the other markets." Additionally, the "availability of qualified personnel" makes Latvia its preferred location.
Gluskin says that private pharmaceutical companies as well as public agencies have expressed interest in Generex' products, especially in its vaccines, therefore she is "confident about the company's commercial success in Europe."
"We plan on working on [registration] submissions for some of the products within our technology platform including our H1N1 vaccine, which is a synthetic based vaccine; and some of our over-the-counter confectionary products including Glucose RapidSpray, CraveNx Diet Spray and BaBoom! EnergySpray. Eventually, we wish to procure the approval of our flagship proprietary buccal insulin spray, Generex Oral-lyn."
Planned investment now is $100,000 (68,400 euros). Generex, traded on the U.S. NASDAQ stock exchange, has a capitalization of $123 million.