Sber, the state-controlled financial and tech giant – previously known as Sberbank, – and Russian pharma major R-Pharm, are teaming up to acquire the online pharmacy Eapteka.
According to the agreement, each partner will get a 45% stake with 10% being retained by company founder Anton Buzdalin. The amount and details of the transaction, which is still subject to regulatory approval, were not disclosed. The deal is expected to be closed until the end of this year.
Eapteka is one of the leaders in online sale of non-prescription drugs and health products in Russia. It claims four million monthly users and offers some 70,000 products available for purchase. Its turnover exceeded 5.7 billion rubles (approximately $92 million) last year, taking into account franchisees. In the first nine months of 2020, sales grew by some 150% year-on-year, according to company data cited by Sber.
The company will operate under the “SberEapteka” brand. The online pharmacy will become part of Sber’s e-health ecosystem, alongside SberZdorovye (previously known as DocDoc). The service will also be integrated with SberLogistics (which resulted from a recent acquisition) and subscription-based discount service SberPrime.
A new legislation on online pharmacy activity came into force in April this year as the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting Russia. The law allows to sell online non-prescription medication – as well as prescription drugs in times of epidemic or in a state of emergency. Online selling of drugs, psychotropic substances and alcohol-containing drugs with a volume fraction of ethanol higher than 25% is still prohibited.
Online orders have been estimated to account for 5% of Russia’s total medicine retail market in 2019. This share could grow to 40% in the next five to seven years as a consequence of the new legislation.