Investment summary

Fund: Fund III, Fund V and Fund VI
Investment theme: Emerging markets growth, structural transformation and strategic re-positioning
Investment date: May 1999 (Fund III), May 2005 (Fund V) and December 2006 (Fund VI)
Exit date: December  2002 (Fund III) September 2011 (Funds V and VI)

Business description

Nycomed is a leading European-based specialty pharmaceutical company, which ranks among the top 30 pharmaceutical companies and is 15th in the world's over-the-counter market. It has direct market presence in Europe, CIS, Latin and North America. Production takes place mainly in Western and Eastern Europe with significant low-cost production in Poland and China. Nycomed has a strong market position in emerging markets - >40% of revenues in 2010.


Nordic Capital Fund III owned Nycomed between 1999 and 2002, during which time the company was established as a stand-alone pharmaceutical company focusing on in-licensing products for its core markets, mainly northern Europe. Under this period, Nycomed restructured its manufacturing operations, boosting efficiency and capacity, and improved the licensing program for new products. In 2002, Nycomed was sold to a group of investors led by CSFB Private Equity. 

In 2005, Nordic Capital Fund V acquired a major shareholding in Nycomed to support a growth strategy based on new products and increasing the presence in emerging markets. 

In 2007, Nycomed focused on the integration of ALTANA Pharma, acquired in late 2006. The headquarters were moved from Denmark to Switzerland. Nycomed also acquired Bradley Pharmaceuticals Inc. in the United States in February 2008.

Investment rationale

When Nordic Capital re-entered as an investor in May 2005, Nycomed was a very well positioned company with many promising products to be launched in the coming years, enabling strong revenue and profit growth with a very strong management team which Nordic Capital was familiar with.

Nycomed was well placed to pursue the objective of becoming a pan-European specialty pharma company, after having strengthened its presence across Europe and successfully signed key in-licensing deals. Strong growth was expected with the financial outlook underpinned by new product launches and exposure to growing markets.

Value added

Nordic Capital supported the transforming acquisition of Altana in December 2006 with new capital from Funds V and VI. Through this key event, which saw Nycomed acquire a company substantially bigger than itself, Nycomed obtained global operations and an interesting R&D pipeline, as well as making substantial synergies. It created a new growth paradigm, with a clear focus on emerging markets and leveraging key products, including the potential blockbuster drug Daxas.

Throughout the 10 years that Nordic Capital's funds were the main owner - of in total 12 years of private equity ownership - Nycomed enjoyed significant organic growth, made several major achievements, including execution and integration of add-ons (e g Altana, Bradley Pharmaceuticals), streamlining of operations and the implementation of a two-pronged sourcing strategy. 


In May 2011, Nycomed was sold to the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda for €9.6bn, excluding the US based dermatology unit, now renamed Fougera Pharmaceuticals. The deal represented the largest private equity trade sale in Europe and third largest globally to date; the largest capital gain for private equity investors globally to date; and the second biggest foreign acquisition by a Japanese company.

View our other case studies >