Priceline owner seeking takeover targets

Priceline4Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) said the time is right to seek health and beauty acquisitions that build on its retail operations such as Priceline Pharmacy and Soul Pattinson chemists.

Chief executive Richard Vincent told the company’s annual general meeting that the business will look for “smaller, scalable acquisitions” after failing in its attempt to buy Laser Clinics Australia in 2017.

“We believe there are other similar, if somewhat smaller options that could fit well with our health and beauty business,” Vincent said.

API this week warned its half year profit is expected to be down nine per cent from a year earlier, due to weaker like-for-like sales in the Priceline business. Vincent told shareholders that API’s digital transformation would take top investment priority in the current fiscal year.

“We’re confident that the measures we have taken to improve our overall consumer offering, the strong performance of our pharmacy distribution business and prudent financial management, lead us to expect that full year NPAT will be marginally ahead of FY17,” Vincent said.

Vincent thanked long-standing chairman Peter Robinson, who after fifteen years has stepped down from his role on the board. Mark Smith, a former chairman of Patties Foods, has been appointed to replace Robinson as chairman. Shares in Australian Pharmaceutical Industries gained 4.5 cents, or 3.3 per cent, to $1.43.

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