AbbVie offloads UK site for $119M in sale to Chinese cell and gene therapy player Pharmaron
With its Allergan buyout now long in the books, AbbVie has been taking a hard look at its suddenly expansive global ops to find space for a deal. Now, working with a Chinese cell and gene therapy player hungry for more elbow room abroad, AbbVie has taken one UK facility off its books.
AbbVie has offloaded its Liverpool manufacturing site as part of a $118.7 million sale to Chinese cell and gene therapy player Pharmaron, which is pitching the purchase as the next step in its global expansion plans, the companies said last week.
The AbbVie site — previously operated by Allergan prior to the two drugmakers’ $63 billion merger — has been in operation since 2007 and employs roughly 150 workers, Pharmaron said. The deal is expected to close in Q2.
Given the sheer size of AbbVie and Allergan’s merger, a degree of synergy — and therefore asset sales — are expected. But the sale to Pharmaron could put those 150 jobs at risk. The company didn’t specify in its release whether it intended to keep those staff on board.
For Pharmaron, the acquisition will help flesh out its end-to-end manufacturing services in cell and gene therapies, one of the hottest markets in all of biopharma. In November, the CDMO purchased US non-clinical CRO outfit Absorption Systems to bolster its R&D capabilities. Absorption specialized in DMPK/ADME and bioanalysis for both small and large molecules, particularly in transporters, human PK prediction and translational pharmaceutics, Pharmaron said.
The cell and gene therapy space has been a hotbed of investment in recent years, and that trend has continued into 2021.
Earlier this week, Biogen announced its plans to add a $200 million facility to its sprawling manufacturing campuses in Research Triangle Park. Blueprinted for a 2023 start date, Biogen is building a 175,000-square-foot facility that global manufacturing chief Nicole Murphy says will fit the bill on 3 key aspects: differentiated, sustainable and advanced.
The week prior, Swiss CDMO Celonic unveiled plans to build a 91,500-square-foot manufacturing center focused on cell and gene therapies, next-gen vaccines and other “innovative” drugs as part of a two-part expansion at Novartis’ Rhine Valley hub. The expansion will add roughly 250 workers at the site, Celonic said, as well as up to 20 manufacturing clean rooms, and lab and office space. The facility is set to open in Q2 2022, Celonic said.