South African drug retailer Dis-Chem plans to raise up to $359 million with a stock market listing, it said on Friday, to reduce debt and allow founders to recoup some of their investment.
Founded by chief executive Ivan Saltzman and his wife Lynette, Dis-Chem will tap an uncertain equity market as it looks to take on larger rival Clicks Group and retailers Shoprite and Pick n Pay, which also have pharmaceutical retail operations.
Dis-Chem said it would sell 238.4 million shares, equating to a 27.5 percent stake, at between 16.25 rand and 20.25 rand, valuing the company at as much as 20 billion rand ($1.44 billion).
It did not say when the final price would set but it is expected to start trading on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Nov. 18.
Dis-Chem, which runs about 100 stores, has grown from a start-up in 1978 to a major health products retailer with annual sales of more than 15 billion rand.
However, it is dwarfed by Clicks in terms of both store network and implied market value. Clicks operates more than 700 outlets, bringing in annual sales of about 23 billion rand.
“The listing will allow us to accelerate our growth ambitions to deliver the Dis-Chem vision of being South Africa’s leading retail pharmacy,” CEO Saltzman said in a statement.
The private company gave no indication of its debt, nor how much it hope to reduce it by.
Saltzman, a pharmacist, said the company plans to double store numbers in the next five to eight years through new outlets and the conversion of independent pharmacies to the Dis-Chem brand.
The listing will throw Dis-Chem into an edgy stock market as investors fret over a weak labour market as the South African economy struggles to cement a recovery from its first recession in nearly two decades.
The JSE all-share index is down about 0.14 percent this year.
The company’s existing shareholders comprise the Saltzman Family Trust, holding 66.9 percent of the company, while management and an unspecified financial investor hold 23.4 percent and 9.7 percent respectively.
Goldman Sachs, Investec Bank, and Standard Bank are the listing’s joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners alongside Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
($1 = 13.9325 rand)
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by David Goodman)