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State pharmacies set for sell off

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11:34 CEST+02:00
Almost two-thirds of the branches of Swedish state-owned pharmacy Apoteket could be privatized, according to a proposal from the company tasked by the government with breaking up the monopoly.

Large and medium-sized operations will be offered the chance to take over

466 of the pharmacies. A further 150 will be transferred into a state-owned company with majority stakes offered to small business owners, according to the proposals published by Apoteket Omstrukturering AB on Tuesday.

The selection of the pharmacies to be put up for sale has been made with regard to geographical location, size, type and profitability.

The aim of the proposal is for the independent pharmacy chains to be able to effectively compete with state-owned Apoteket AB, which will retain 330 pharmacies.

The pharmacies will be offered for sale from May and all branches will remain open during the process.

"We will not have a single day when the curtains are drawn and a "closed for renovation" sign put up," said Eva-Britt Gustafsson, CEO of Apoteket Omstrukturering AB.

The 466 branches identified for sale to larger operators will be divided into eight groups, with between ten and 200 pharmacies in each.

Swedish and foreign companies are among the interest parties which have been in contact with the government via Apoteket Omstrukturering AB. The firms come from venture capital and pharmacy retail as well as other business sectors.

Staff that currently work for the pharmacies earmarked for sale will be offered continued employment.

"We have found that there is a great interest in moving over," Gustafsson said.

The state share of the firm that will take over the 150 pharmacies identified for sale to franchisees "could be liquidated in the longer term."

There are currently a total of 946 pharmacies located across Sweden.

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