Eva-Britt Gustavsson & Birgitta Böhlin from Apoteket omstrukturering at Monday's press conference

Sweden Sells Off Half of its Pharmacy Retail Monopoly

update 11:00 am

Sweden confirmed on Monday that it had sold off part of its Apoteket retail pharmacy monopoly to private investors for 844.5 million dollars, ending a monopoly lasting almost 40 years.

More than 460 of a total of 916 pharmacies have been sold with another 150 to be sold to small business owners at a later date. The state will retain ownership of the remainder.

The licenses for the stores sold off under deregulation have been bought up by a variety of companies. Finland's Oriola-KD Oyj is one of the buyers, acquiring 171 pharmacies for about 1.56 billion crowns in cash. Nordic private equity specialist Altor will buy 208 pharmacies generating revenue of 7.1 billion crowns. Sweden's Segulah AB, which also focuses on the region, is buying 62 pharmacies. Investor AB, a listed Swedish investment firm, and Priveq Investment AB are together buying 24 drugstores with a turnover of 1.4 billion crowns.

Sweden took up a retail monopoly on the pharmacy market in 1970. The current government promised to open the market to competition when it came to power in 2006. Last year, Sweden's Minister for Health and Social affairs, Göran Hägglund said  "A successful pharmacy must be open during the hours when people are able to visit a pharmacy. Competition leads to greater adaptation to customer needs and speeds up the development of new solutions. This benefits individual customers as well as society in general."

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