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Bergen to Acquire Puerto Rican Drug Distributor J.M. Blanco

November 26, 1998| From Bloomberg News

Bergen Brunswig Corp., the third-largest U.S. drug wholesaler, said it will purchase closely held J.M. Blanco Inc. for an undisclosed price to expand into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Blanco, based in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with revenue of more than $200 million, Bergen said.

The company will operate as a separate subsidiary of Orange-based Bergen after the transaction closes in January.

Bergen Brunswig and other major drug wholesalers such as McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc. are snapping up companies to expand the size and scope of their offerings. Earlier this month, Bergen Brunswig bought Stadtlander Drug Co. to expand its distribution of specialty drugs.

For Bergen Brunswig, which had revenue of $17.1 billion last year, expanding into new markets is just as important as adding Blanco's $200 million in revenue, analysts said.

Bergen's stock rose $1.38 to close at $62.94 on the New York Stock Exchange, near the 52-week high of $63.94 that it reached Monday. The shares had traded as low as $33.63 early in September.

The drug wholesale industry was thrown into flux earlier this year when a federal court judge blocked transactions that would have combined the four largest wholesalers into two. Since then, McKesson bought HBO & Co., a medical software maker. Cardinal bought R.P. Scherer Corp. to enter the market of developing faster-acting drugs and Allegiance Corp. to add medical supplies and cost-management services.

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