Charterhouse starts $2.4 bln sale of century-old French drugmaker -sources

FRANKFURT, Jan 27 (Reuters) - European private equity firm Charterhouse has kicked off the sale of drugmaker Cooperation Pharmaceutique Française as it seeks to capitalise on investor appetite for pandemic-resilient healthcare assets, three sources told Reuters.

The French business, known as Cooper, could be valued at 2 billion euros ($2.42 billion) or above, the financial sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Charterhouse, which bought Cooper in 2015, is working with Rothschild as an adviser on the deal and HSBC is providing staple financing, the sources said.

The buyout fund sent out confidential information packages in early January with a view to collecting tentative bids for the company in February, they said.

Charterhouse and its advisers declined to comment.

A number of rival private equity groups with a penchant for healthcare are preparing for the auction of the maker of brands such as Oenobiol food suppliments, Pouxit lice treatment or Audispray ear cleanser.

Charterhouse strengthened Cooper’s portfolio over the years with the acquisition of over-the-counter drugs group Vemedia, a number of Sanofi pharma brands and Switzerland’s Laboratoires Diepharmex.

Demand for Cooper’s Baccide branded antibacterial solutions products exploded in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged Europe.

Cooper may be valued at 1.5-2 billion euros, including debt, in a potential deal, representing a multiple of 10 to 12 times the company’s expected core earnings, two of the sources said, while another said entreprise value could easily top 2 billion euros.

Cooper, which has approximately 850 full time employees, started as a pharmacists’ cooperative outside Paris more than 100 years ago. ($1 = 0.8261 euros) (Editing by Barbara Lewis)