MAZEN DARWAZEH-MENA CEO of Hikma Pharmaceutical

Venture at 10-Mazen Darwazeh

Mazen Darwazeh: Vice-Chairman and MENA CEO of Hikma

Date of Interview: October 2013

Hikma is one of a handful of Jordanian companies that can truly be considered world class. In the first half of 2013, its revenues reached $638.3 million.

Speaking to Venture in the same year Vice-chairman and MENA CEO Mazen Darwazeh predicted the upward trend in earnings would continue, and expected great things from the company’s aggressive expansion into the presently untapped vast markets of Africa.

From the Interview

Hikma’s share price jumped 43 percent this year. Was that due to an increasing trust in the company’s business and capabilities?

We have benefited from hard work, a dedicated management and strong teams, and transparency, which is very important for building shareholder trust. We spend a great deal of time meeting with investors to keep them abreast of the latest developments. Today most of our shareholders are institutions based in the UK, Europe, and the United States.

We’ve been doubling in size every four years, this was our message to the market and our internal management target is to continue doing that either through organic growth or through acquisitions. We are listed at £2.9 ($4.13), today we reached over £10 ($14.26), so Hikma has been a great investment. We have an average trading volume of around 250,000 shares per day, so we have decent liquidity. Actually we are a FTSE 250 company and have an objective to move to the FTSE 100. And being listed on the London Stock Exchange means we have access to all of the large global institutional asset managers and hedge funds. We have 10-12 sell-side analysts from global financial institutions covering Hikma, including Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Citi, and JP Morgan.

What are Hikma’s best selling products?

Today, around 40 percent of the group’s revenue is coming from the branded business in MENA and around 39 percent of revenue is coming from our global Injectables business, which sells in the U.S., Europe, and MENA. Approximately 47 percent of group revenue is in the United States and around 46 percent is in the Arab world where we are witnessing growth in many of our newer therapeutic categories, including diabetes, cardiovascular, and oncology. If you look at the demographics of the Arab world, the young population will grow, so the medication they need as they grow will also change as we’re seeing more drugs related to the modern style of living like obesity. We worked a lot with health care authorities in the region on obesity, on training in schools for health care programs, and diabetes. It’s part of our social and moral responsibility.

Right now there’s fear of chemical attack in the region, so atropine should be ready. And today it’s all about the availability, so we have shifted some of our stocks from the US market to this part of the world because we need to be ready. We’ve done that in the past with bird flu and we are doing it again now.

Do you think the pharmaceutical sector was spared the pain of the Arab Spring?

We have witnessed disruptions as a result of the instabilities that took place in Egypt and in Libya where we had some issues concerning the safety of our people. What’s good about our teams in the Arab world is they are all local so they know their countries and they know how to handle these situations. In some cases, it’s a matter of, is it the life of the patient or the letter of credit? We did that in Libya; we sent medicines without any collaterals or cash, and eventually they paid them because the world of pharma is very small. We’ve been dealing with the companies we work with for more than 30 years.

What’s happened since?

In March 2015, Hikam Pharmaceuticals joined the FTSE 100, Britain’s benchmark index. However, a year later the stock fell back out of the index, and recent reports suggested the company was eager to return to the index soon. Hikma continued with its expansion drive, particularly in the United States where it recently acquired Roxane Laboratories. The $2.7 billion deal cemented the company’s position in the US market, where 50 percent of Hikma’s operations are based today. The other 50, said Darwazeh in a recent interview, are based in Europe and the Arab world. The company is operating in 50 countries around the world with a market cap of around $7 billion.

In October 2015, Hikma also laid the cornerstone for its new state-of-the-art headquarters in Amman.


This is part two of a 10-piece story. Articles in the series of Venture at 10 also include: