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French firm takes control of Lancet Kenya operations

 Ahmed Kalebi
Lancet Kenya CEO Ahmed Kalebi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

France-based multinational Cerba Healthcare has entered into a joint venture agreement with medical services provider Lancet Laboratories for an undisclosed amount in a move that will see it take control of the Kenyan unit headed by Dr Ahmed Kalebi.

The agreement with South Africa-based Lancet will give Cerba control over a network of more than 100 laboratories previously owned by the firm that operate in 11 African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The labs spread across Africa have over 1,400 employees serving more than 1.3 million patients a year.

Lancet SA will now hold a 49 percent stake in the joint venture while Cerba Healthcare will own 51 percent. The European laboratory testing company will manage the firm which generated Sh5 billion turnover in 2018.

The joint venture, however, does not include operations in South Africa. Cerba, which already has two running programmes in Africa, will be the majority shareholder of Lancet Kenya while Dr Ahmed Kalebi, who is the CEO of Pathologists Lancet Kenya (PLK) and the Lancet Group of Laboratories in East Africa will retain his shares.

“Currently we as PLK will not be diluted through this transfer. I will still remain the largest single shareholder despite the fact that Cerba will be the majority shareholder,” said Dr Kalebi.

PLK operates 38 labs and service points in Kenya and has subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) in December 2018 approved the deal to take over Lancet’s shareholding in PLK, saying it met the threshold for exclusion under the Competition Act.

The Authority can declare certain transactions excluded from provisions of Part IV of the Competition Act if they are unlikely to affect competition negatively and the combined turnover of the merging parties, for the preceding year, is below Sh1 billion.

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