As you no doubt know, Celltrion, the big Korean CMO, is up for sale. It's biggest investor Chairman Seo Jung Jin wants to part with his $1.3 B stake in the company and is actively seeking buyers. Fierce Biotech reports today that AstraZeneca, Teva and Roche have all expressed interest and are involved in the process. None of this was confirmed by Celltrion (at least publicly).
AZ is looking for the revenue boost from any source that makes potential sense as it has had a decade of clinical failures in its pipeline and is losing many of its biggest drugs to patent expirations. Celltrion would be a good fit to potentially to work with its Medarex unit as it tries to bring biologics to the market to make up for those lost revenues.
Teva is also rumored to be in the competition. This is a bit of a surprise but Celltrion may be a good replacement for Lonza in its recently failed JV to bring biosimilars to market. Celltrion just got a biosimilar version of Remicade approved by the EMA. Korea's government is also very bullish on biosimilars and has offered many incentives for investment in the area (see Celltrion, Samsung, etc). Teva has a stated interest in also being a big player in biosimilars and thus this acquisition could make sense --- unless you believe Lonza management's assessment of the lowered value of thiis market.
Roche is the third bidder named in the Fierce article. Roche may be interested in just bolstering its worldwide manufacturing base for biologics. Celltrion is a modern biologics manufacturing facility and is located in the hot Asian market. Clearly Roche wants to fully exploit sales worldwide for its healthy pipeline of 40+ biologics plus the biologics it already has in commercial status. This type of acquisition can really make sense for them as they acquire a quality operating site and wouldn't have the down time associated with building from green field.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Jan 8th 2013.