Galen founder pays £40m to buy back UK drugs business

Allen Mcclay, the retired founder of the Northern Irish drug maker Galen, has bought back another piece of the company to stave off its closure.

Allen Mcclay, the retired founder of the Northern Irish drug maker Galen, has bought back another piece of the company to stave off its closure.

The 71-year-old bachelor, who cashed in his remaining shares in Galen for £97m earlier this month, is spending £40m of the proceeds to buy the company's UK product sales and marketing arm.

"A lot of people are dependent on the company for jobs," Dr McClay said, "and having been responsible for the creation of the thing, I don't want them to be facing unemployment. They are world-class people and they have been slightly demotivated over the last few years as Galen's focus switches to the US."

Dr McClay set up Galen in 1968 after several years working as a drug sales rep for Glaxo. Although he retired as non-executive president in 2001, having overseen its growth from a business providing manufacturing and laboratory services to drug makers to a specialist pharmaceuticals company in its own right, Dr McClay has now spent £130m buying back many of the original parts of the business and millions more building state-of-the-art facilities for drug manufacturing and development.

He once said that he "bought a chemistry set to keep me busy in my retirement". Yesterday he added: "I am not a man for private yachts and all that, and you can only eat one breakfast, so the chemistry set has grown a bit."

Roger Boissonneault, the chief executive of Galen, said: "For some time now we have indicated that we intend to focus our business primarily on the US market where we have enjoyed excellent growth in recent years. We no longer see the UK and Irish markets as core."

The division sold to Dr McClay yesterday had sales of $32.9m (£18.6m) in the year to last September.

Galen's focus switched to the US after the acquisition of Warner Chilcott in 2000 and is now a £1.45bn company with sales last year of £260m and profits of £70m. It specialises in women's healthcare, with products in hormone replacement therapy, contraception and severe premenstrual tension. The company also sold a sterile fluids business yesterday for £2.5m cash.

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