Real estate

GSK finds a buyer willing to take its Paris R&D site off its hands — for a hefty fee

After shopping the François Hyafil Research Centre near Paris for the past year, GlaxoSmithKline says it finally has a buyer — and the deal will only cost the pharma giant about $40 million.

Philippe Genne of Oncodesign

Philippe Genne of Oncodesign

GSK has pledged the cash to subsidize the employment of 57 staffers at the research facility in Villebon-sur-Yvette over the next four years as part of its agreement to hand it all over to Oncodesign, which evaluates new drug candidates for its customers.

The group had been doing something similar for GSK, helping out with the company’s incubation efforts on the discovery side.

The decision to jettison the facility has corporate roots that date all the way back to late 2014, when flagging Advair sales and a slow ramp up on new drugs left analysts chafing over GSK’s financials. Glaxo ripped into its research operations in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, quickly restructuring and transferring hundreds of jobs to Parexel (which quickly laid off many of their new staffers.)

GSK decided to concentrate its R&D efforts in Stevenage and Upper Providence — leaving France out of the loop.

R&D transfers or cuts, though, don’t happen with the same speed in France. As former Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher found out after reportedly dissing the productivity of the company’s French research (there wasn’t any), French work rules and French government officials can make it quite a chore to reorganize and lay off staffers in the country.

That all played out well for Oncodesign, though, which is based in Dijon and now has a new research center with the payroll covered by GSK for several years to come.

Philippe Genne, CEO and founder of Oncodesign, had this to say in a statement:

“This acquisition further accelerates the development of our strategic partnerships, with IPSEN, BMS and UCB. In addition, it will speed up our Nanocyclix based drug discovery internal programs through increased capabilities and productivity in both oncology and non-oncology areas. Oncodesign will thus strengthen its scientific expertise in one of the most modern research centres in France in addition to acquiring new and complementary capabilities and expansion in non-oncology space. Together with our presence at the Open Campus IPSEN site, the FHRC integration will further establish our presence in the Paris Saclay science cluster and allow us to benefit from the innovation in this region in complement to that of our Dijon site.”

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