Kiwis swallow local drugs group in agreed $729m takeover

Australia is set for another sharemarket listing, after one of the country's biggest drug wholesalers, Symbion, agreed to a $729 million takeover by New Zealand healthcare and animal care products company Ebos Group.

Australia is set for another sharemarket listing, after one of the country's biggest drug wholesalers, Symbion, agreed to a $729 million takeover by New Zealand healthcare and animal care products company Ebos Group.

The combined company will have revenue of $5.2 billion, making Ebos the third-largest company by revenue listed on the New Zealand stock exchange.

The bulk of the revenue will come from Symbion, which distributes prescription medicine, over-the-counter drugs and veterinary products to pharmacies, hospitals and vets across Australia.

Owned by Swiss company Zuellig since 2008, Symbion reported more than $3.8 billion in revenue last year and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $108.5 million.

The combined business will list on the Australian Stock Exchange by the end of the year, but will be 40 per cent owned by Zuellig, which already had a small stake in Ebos through a subsidiary.

An ASX listing would mean Ebos joins the likes of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Kathmandu and Telecom Corp as NZ-based companies listed in Australia.

"[An] ASX listing is a really important part because of the Aussie instos [institutions]," Ebos managing director Mark Waller said during a news conference.

"We want to increase liquidity ... it will also create a much greater coverage of a combined business because the Australian market understands the space well, where in NZ we are the only listed player," he said.

The combined group, to be headed by Mr Waller, will become the third listed pharmaceutical wholesaler in Australia.

Symbion chief executive Patrick Davies said the 1300 Australian staff would retain their jobs and the outlook for the local business was positive, despite pressures on the health budget.

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