By 2020, the Italian laboratory Chiesi plans to double the size of its operation in Brazil, which last year had a net revenue of R$ 215 million. To achieve this goal, in addition to organic growth, the pharmaceutical company evaluates acquisitions, partnerships and licensing or other opportunities for attractive inorganic expansion. "We are looking for assets. There are several fronts, but we still have nothing on the table," said José Fernando Almeida, General Manager of Chiesi in the country, in interview to Valor magazine.
At the moment, the pharmaceutical company is investing R$ 21 million in its own resources, to expand and modernize its plant in Santana de Parnaíba, in the State of São Paulo, which is currently capable of producing 13 million units (boxes) per year of liquid, solid and aerosol medicines. In this first stage of expansion, with works expected to occur in the next six months, at least 4 million units will be added to the installed capacity, focusing on the liquid line.
According to Almeida, the strategy of the pharmaceutical company, which has factories in Brazil, France and Italy, where it is also headquartered, is to transform the Brazilian unit into a Clenil export hub, meeting the global demand for the drug used in treatment of asthma.
"We will be the worldwide suppliers of Clenil for Chiesi," he explained. As a result of the plan, pharmaceutical exports from Brazil, now destined to the United Kingdom and Italy alone, will reach 26 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. Last year, 25% of local production was shipped. By 2020, this slice should reach 40%.
This larger share of exports will increase the hedge of the operation in Brazil against the devaluation of the Brazilian Real. Today, about 95% of pharmaceutical inputs are imported and laboratories have been under significant pressure to strengthen the dollar. With the investment in progress, the forecast is to have already a "large volume" exported in early 2017.
"But we will also grow in domestic sales," he said. Chiesi’s two main areas of activity are respiratory and neonatal, but the plans until 2020 include the expansion of the portfolio of OTC drugs (exempt from prescription) and institutional (hospital). In addition, in two years Chiesi intends to enter the market for the treatment of rare diseases with the launch of new drugs. "We are already talking with Anvisa (Brazil’s National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance) about one of these medicines," he said.
With 80 years of history, Chiesi has been present in the Brazilian market for almost 40 years. First affiliate of the pharmaceutical company outside Italy, the local operation is now seventh in terms of income. By 2020, however, the goal is to reach the fourth or fifth position.
Overall, the laboratory earned € 1.3 billion in 2014, rising 8.4% from the previous year, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) reached € 363 million, or 27.1% % of net revenue. Research and development investments totaled 237 million euros, but Chiesi invested another 89 million euros to buy the total capital of Chiesi USA.
The operation in Brazil, according to Almeida, reports to the command of emerging countries and, along with Russia and Turkey, in the evaluation of the executive, corresponds today to the biggest challenges of this group. For 2015, the business expectation in the country is a growth of 12%, in line with the IMS Health forecast. "This challenging phase will pass. We need to be able to seize the moment when the scenario improves," he said.