Polpharma’s Zentiva Bid Signals Expanded International Ambitions


Poland’s largest pharmaceutical company and leading generics manufacturer, Polpharma, is looking to expand its presence outside of the country’s borders. With a recent acquisition bid for former Sanofi European generics unit, Zentiva, Polpharma is building on a growing international footprint beyond its CEE base.


Founded over 80 years ago, Polpharma is Poland’s flagship pharma company. Leading the domestic market while becoming a major force in Central and Eastern European drug manufacturing, the company has a broad portfolio of some 800 products, which include prescriptions drugs, OTC products, and medical devices, which cover a wide range of disease areas.


Local and Regional Player

Our international footprint is a differentiating factor from other local Polish players

Markus Sieger, CEO

Up until recently, Polpharma has been focused mainly on the Polish market, where it claims to supply 1 in 8 medicines sold in Polish pharmacies and 1 in 3 medicines used in the country’s hospitals. Yet the firm has been looking beyond Poland’s borders for some time, mainly to former Soviet Union territories Kazakhstan and Russia. In these markets the Polpharma Group comprises Santo/Chimpharm in Kazakhstan and Akrikhin in Russia.

Markus Sieger“Our international footprint is a differentiating factor from other local Polish players,” said CEO Markus Sieger in a 2018 PharmaBoardroom interview. “The company is driven by our three core markets [Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan], but also by other countries, mostly in the CEE and CIS region, such as Hungary, Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Vietnam,” he continued.

The firm has become adept at customizing its offering for each of its markets. “We have a tailored portfolio in each market, and within our top three Polpharma nations, our portfolio is different. We utilize potential synergies between the countries where it is possible but taking into account local experience of our teams we give them the possibility to develop their market approach,” stated Sieger.

In addition, Polpharma has long held a “local player” philosophy and a regional group makes an effort to act as a local company in each of its key countries.


International Bid

Our international markets are growing rapidly; therefore, this segment is increasingly important

This philosophy could be behind Polpharma’s efforts to buy Czech-based Zentiva from its US owner, private equity company Advent International. The value of the deal is estimated at some USD 4 billion, says Reuters, and Polpharma is looking for investors who could potentially join the bid in exchange for a minority stake.

At the time of PharmaBoardroom’s interview with Sieger, the company was already looking to expand its footprint: “Our international markets are growing rapidly; therefore, this segment is increasingly important, and we have plans to widen our regional reach in the upcoming future by defining more core markets,” he said.

If the deal goes through, Polpharma’s ambitions could take the company beyond the region seeing as Zentiva, acquired by Advent from Sanofi for EUR 1.9 billion in 2018, produces generic and OTC products not only for the Czech Republic, but for some 40 countries at its facilities in the Czech Republic, Romania, and India.

Of Polpharma’s plans for the future, Sieger stated: “We want to continue building the company, while continuing to be innovative and close to the market. Equally, we aim to expand further into other segments and international markets. Throughout this entire process, we must think in a smart and strategic manner, and always keep in mind our long-term vision.”

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