Ras Al-Khaimah-based Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) and Global have announced the formation of pharmacy chain, Planet Pharmacies (Planet). Global will hold a 60 per cent stake in the joint venture company, with Julphar holding the remaining 40 per cent. Planet will have an initial capital of $245m and will be based in Dubai. The company’s working capital is expected to reach $817m over a period of two to three years.

“We have a significant amount of investments in healthcare and education,” says Shailesh Dash, Global senior vice-president and head of strategic investment. “There is high growth in the sector. In most parts of the world pharmaceuticals are a consolidated business, here it is still fragmented.” Planet hopes to consolidate the industry across the region.

The investment in Planet is the Global buyout fund’s second investment in the healthcare sector, and Global’s third investment in the sector overall, says Dash. “We would usually expect to hold an investment like this for four to five years, but it could be up to six years,” Dash tells MEED. “The fund’s life is seven to 10 years. We do plan to do an initial public offering but the date depends on the operations of the company.”

The first 95 pharmacies will be opened in Dubai in January 2008. A further 18 outlets will be opened in Oman and by 2010, 2000 Planet outlets are expected to be operating across the Middle East and North Africa.