Private investment firm snaps up Pfizer facility in Western Australia
Bridgewest Group, a private investment firm, has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Pfizer’s sterile injectable facility in the town of Bentley, Australia, a suburb of Perth.
According to the group, the facility is approved to supply around 90 countries with drug products and has the OK from several regulators including the FDA. The facility also has “extensive” blow fill seal capabilities for manufacturing injectables and operations to make oncology drugs as well. Bridgewest will be acquiring several drug products from Pfizer to make and sell globally, although the specific products were not disclosed.
In an email to Endpoints News, a Bridgewest spokesperson explained why the firm purchased the facility:
We see considerable demand and opportunities in the sector. The Australian Government has said they are extremely supportive of investment in pharmaceutical manufacturing which has certainly made Australian companies, like this one, attractive investments. Australian science and research capabilities are world-class. We look forward to engaging with the Government to further support our investment program in Australia.
While the company did not disclose the purchasing price, it is planning on making “significant” capital investments into the Bentley plant. The 380 members of staff will also be given the offer to come over to the new ownership. The company is also working on getting manufacturing contracts and developing a name for the plant. In a statement, Bridgewest COO Adam Gickling expected the sale to close in several months.
However, the plant had labor action occur in August as employees who belonged to Australia’s United Workers Union walked off for 24 hours in protest of what the union saw as a substandard pay offer for workers when it was owned by Pfizer. The Bridgewest spokesperson stated that anything related to that is currently being managed by Pfizer.
The move from Bridgewest also comes as Pfizer was planning to shutter the doors on the site. According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Company, Pfizer was planning to stop manufacturing next year and close the site officially in 2024, costing around 470 employees their jobs.
This is also not Bridgewest’s first foray into acquiring Australian manufacturing sites. In 2020, the firm acquired a manufacturer in the city of Adelaide, Australia which now operates under the name of BioCina. However, the Bentley acquisition is a separate and distinct business from BioCina.
The Bentley plant isn’t the only manufacturing site in the land down under to be snapped up by a private group. API and therapeutic manufacturer Luina Bio, now known as AcuraBio, based in the Brisbane suburb of Darra, Australia, was bought by Ampersand Capital Partners, a private equity firm that has experience in the CDMO arena, and by Glenn Haifer, a biotech investor and chairman of the board at Luina.