France’s CAVP, which runs a funded pension scheme for independent pharmacists, has launched a third fund providing financial assistance for members looking to set up shop.

Dubbed InterPharmaciens, the first such fund, for €20m, was launched in February 2019, followed by a second, also for €20m, in October last year.

Earlier this month the fund’s administrators voted unanimously in favour of creating a third InterPharmaciens fund.

According to CAVP, the InterPharmaciens fund has found its place among propositions offered on the market and is “arousing real enthusiasm”.

In a statement, Philippe Berthelot, CAVP president, said that by mid-June the pension scheme had invested €39m in the project, with the €20m from the second fund almost fully invested as at the end of May.

He said this was why he instigated consideration of the launch of a third fund by the CAVP board, adding that the pension scheme’s approach was “close to the hearts of all the directors”.

“InterPharmaciens is fully in line with our pension fund’s ESG approach: by providing assistance to young pharmacists who set up shop, it contributes to maintaining the country’s network of pharmacies,” said Berthelot.

For CAVP, the InterPharmaciens initiative is about mobilising its long-term investment capacity for the benefit of inter-generational solidarity.

Funded second-pillar pension schemes are rare in France, and CAVP also runs unfunded schemes. As at the end of December 2019 the funded second-pillar old-age retirement scheme accounted for nearly €6bn in assets.

How InterPharmaciens works

CAVP teamed up with private equity manager Esfin Gestion, a subsidiary of Crédit Coopératif group, to provide the InterPharmaciens funds as it cannot by law lend directly to pharmacists.

Esfin Gestion manages the fund on behalf of CAVP and decides independently on the financing allocation to pharmacists.

Up to €500,000 can be borrowed for 15 years. Esfin Gestion subscribes to a bond issued by an ad hoc company owned by the pharmacist and created for the purpose of buying a pharmacy.

The annual interest rate is fixed at 2.95% and the financing will in practice have a maturity of between 10 and 14 years. The idea is that the InterPharmaciens financing, on top of a personal contribution from individuals, will be complemented by a bank loan.

According to CAVP, close to 800 requests for information have been submitted by pharmacists since the launch of the first InterPharmaciens fund, and 350 funding requests. Just over 130 funds have been released, for on average €206,000. The average age of those looking to buy a pharmacy is 34 years.

CAVP also reported the average number of associates per pharmacy, and the number of supported employees: 1.3 and 640, respectively.

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