South Korean conglomerate SK Group is in talks to purchase an additional stake in Imexpharm Pharmaceutical in a strategy aimed at increasing its exposure to Vietnam’s fast-growing pharmaceutical market, industry sources said.
The move comes after SK Investment Vina III, an SK affiliate established to invest in Southeast Asia, acquired 24.9% of the Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm in June. The transaction value was not disclosed but is estimated at about 665 billion Vietnamese dong ($28.7 million) on the basis of Imexpharm’s stock price at the time of the deal.
The additional purchase was part of SK Group’s initial plan, sources said, adding that talks are underway between the two firms. SK is expected to raise its shareholding in Imexpharm to 49%, which is a threshold limit for foreign ownership under the Vietnamese laws.
The investment is aligned with SK Group’s focus on the healthcare industry for future growth. The conglomerate expects synergies between Imexpharm and its pharmaceutical businesses such as SK Biopharmaceuticals, SK Pharmteco and SK Bioscience. The SUPEX Council, the conglomerate’s highest decision-making body made up of multiple committees, also recently created a bio sub-committee under its governance committee.
SK Group is expanding its presence in Vietnam to capitalize on local growth and use the country as a gateway to Southeast Asia. It acquired 9.4% of Masan Group for 530 billion won ($489 million) in 2018 and 6% of Vingroup for 1.18 trillion won in the following year.
SK Energy, the energy unit of the conglomerate, also owns a 5.2% stake in Vietnam’s state oil firm PetroVietnam. (Reporting by Se-hun Jo)