Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  11 Feb 2010

VENTURES: Homeopathics' Big Back-Up


Recent Western Cape Business News

MANY years ago, before the advent of big pharma and easier access to modern medicine for people the only recourse for most any ailments, real or imagined, was homeopathics.

But often more sophisticated people - as they thought of themselves - looked askance at homeopaths, viewing their science more akin to quackery. Some do even to this day.

Allopathic medicine it certainly is not, but homeopathics have grown in stature, if not only for their curative power, then certainly for their monetary value.

Take the following deal as an example: Last month Cape Town-based private equity firm Coast2Coast (C2C) bought half a stake of the well know homeopathic brand Natura for R60 million, giving it an inferred value of R120 million.

The deal includes the property and manufacturing operation. C2C and the current Natura owners, Michael Levien and Willem Jonker, will each initially hold 50% of the well-known brand, which has significant excess manufacturing capacity at it new state of the art production facility.

The acquisition is in line with our business strategy,” C2C chief operating officer, Cris Dillon says. “We have clear criteria for acquisitions; companies must be well-established businesses with a long track record, preferably more than 10 years, they must have a turnover of more than R50 million or profits of over R10 million per year. Natura fitted the bill in every sense.”

Natura was founded in 1966 by Levien, now 88 years old, and still one of South Africa’s prominent homeopaths. Levien has been largely responsible for establishing homeopathy as a mainstream alternative to allopathic medicine. “Natura has continually been at the forefront of homeopathic and herbal medicine in South Africa, and remains the number one brand in this category today. The wide array of products that the company manufactures and markets, via both its professional and retail divisions, provide treatment for a wide range of illnesses,” Dillon says.

Natura products are available in virtually every pharmacy, health shop, chain store, and through the majority of complementary medical practitioners in South Africa. The company is on track to reach annual sales of over R80 million in the next financial year.

Coast2Coast, founded in 2006 by ex-Zimbabwean CEO Gary Shayne and later joined by Cris Dillon, has so far built a portfolio of companies in the food, manufacturing, property and distribution sectors. Over time C2C has shifted their focus towards the fast-moving consumer goods sector.

The complementary alternative medicines industry has shown significant year-on-year growth, with consumers turning more regularly to self-medication and health maintenance. The Natura acquisition is an opportunity for us to acquire further brands and achieve our vision to become the number one player in the health products category in emerging markets,” Dillon says.

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