NEWS | Tuesday, 31 October 2007
Employees requested to sell back their share options to new majority shareholder
Icelandic generic drug manufacturer Actavis has no plans to dispose of its plant in Malta and its workforce after being taken over by Icelandic investment firm Novator earlier this year.
Asked by BusinessToday whether the new ownership would retain the Malta plant and is associated research and development (R&D) facilities or not and its plans for it, a spokesperson for Actavis in Reykjavik explained that Actavis’ Malta site focuses on the production of oral-solids.
“The site has been recently refurbished, is EU/GMP approved and has a high-volume capacity, which makes it a vital supply source for Actavis’ Western European markets,” Hjordis Arnadottir, Director of External Communications for Actavis said.
Asked specifically whether Novator would retain the current employment levels at the Actavis Malta plant, Arnadottir told BusinessToday: “Actavis’ Malta site currently employs more than 330 people. That number is not expected to change in the near future.”
The take-over by the investment firm led by Actavis Chairman Thor Bjorgolfsson last July of the well-established generic drug manufacturer founded in 1956 led analysts to speculate that the new ownership could downsize the company and close down unnecessary production sites.
Asked about the General Workers’ Union (GWU)’s reaction to the take-over of Actavis by Novator, Roberto Cristiano, Secretary of the Union’s Manufacturing and SMEs Section, which represents Actavis employees, told BusinessToday: “The take-over of Actavis by Novator was treated by the GWU like any other business take-over. This is a normal process in the business world. Our obligation and duty is to see that the transition and take over does not negatively affect our members.”
Asked whether Actavis Malta’s operations had been affected in any way as a result of the take-over by Novator in terms of facilities and employment levels, Cristiano told BusinessToday: “Till today we haven’t been informed that there was an affect on Malta plant. “What we know is that it’s business as usual and that the investment plans for the future are still there. This can change any time even if there isn’t a take over situation,” he insisted.
Questioned as to what effective action had the GWU taken with the Actavis management to ensure that the Novator take-over did not affect negatively employees in any way, Cristiano said: “We have a collective agreement which stipulates the conditions of work of our members. That will be honoured.
“We have been aware of this take over since May this year. The company had informed us about it. The person taking over was already a major shareholder at Actavis,” he told BusinessToday.
One of the first actions that the new ownership took was to ask employees – including those in Malta -- who had Actavis shares as a result of share options offered by the company to sell back the shares to the company.
Asked by BusinessToday to confirm whether there had been a share buy-back from Actavis employees and the reason for this, the spokesperson for the company explained that this summer Novator made all other shareholders of Actavis Group hf. – then listed on the Iceland stock exchange – an offer for all outstanding Class A shares of Actavis Group hf.
“This included shares owned by all Actavis employees, worldwide. Actavis Group is now a private company, owned by Novator,” Arnaddotir said.
There were no answer to questions asked by this newspaper as to how many Maltese employees were involved in the share buy-back scheme, the total number of shares that were bought back from them and at what price they were bought.
On his part, Cristiano confirmed that Actavis employees were requested to sell back their shares to Actavis “due to the fact that the major shareholder was buying back the shares” in the company.
“We do not know the number of employees that had invested in shares at Actavis. What we know that all employees who had shares at Actavis had to sell their share,” he explained.
As regards the price, Cristiano explained that a board was established at Actavis head office to negotiate the price with the new owner. “A first offer was rejected and an agreement was reached after the second offer,” he told BusinessToday.
In July last year, shortly before taking over the company, Bjorgolfsson had expressed his intention of delisting Actavis from the Icelandic Stock Exchange “as soon as possible” and turning it into a private company.
Headquartered in Iceland, Actavis has 11,000 employees operating in around 40 countries around the globe. The company has modern development and manufacturing facilities in Europe, the United States and Asia.
The plants produce a variety of medicines in different formulations including tablets, capsules, injectables, suppositories, sprays, steriles, powders, oral liquids and semi-solids.
Actavis also invests heavily in research and development – with three sites in Denmark, Iceland and Malta – pursuing a determined first-to-market strategy and positioning itself to take full advantage of future opportunities.
The pharmaceutics plant at Zejtun was originally established as Pharmamed Limited in 1973. In 2001, Pharmamed was taken over by Delta, which was later merged into Pharmaco, which changed its name to Actavis in May 2004.
Novator’s investment portfolio is focused around three main sectors: Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals and Financial Services. In addition, Novator operates a Private Equity Fund and a Credit Opportunities Fund.
31 October 2007
ISSUE NO. 509