Samsung launches 850 billion won biotech plant

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Samsung launches 850 billion won biotech plant


Industry for the future . President Park Geun-hye, fourth from right, and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, fifth from right, as well as other dignitaries celebrate the ground-breaking of Samsung BioLogics’ third plant in Songdo, Incheon, on Monday. The factory will have the world’s largest biopharmaceutical manufacturing capacity when it becomes fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2018. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Samsung BioLogics broke ground on Monday on what will be the world’s largest biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Songdo, Incheon.

The 850 billion won ($722 million) facility will be the company’s third biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant when it becomes operational in the fourth quarter of 2018. BioLogics is the biopharmaceutical manufacturing arm of Samsung Group.

The facility will be completed by the end of 2017 and undergo a validation process for nine months.

The third plant will double the company’s production capacity to 360,000 liters, which is set to surpass the world’s No. 1 Lonza of Switzerland at 260,000 liters and second player Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim at 240,000 liters.

A biopharmaceutical is a medical product, biological, or biologic, that is manufactured in or extracted from a biological source.

Production capacity is measured by the combined liters of pharmaceutical product that respective bioreactors may produce for a single cycle. The company already runs two factories in the same complex.

Kim Tae-han, CEO and president of Samsung BioLogics, said, “We have decided to invest in the third plant earlier than planned to supply products with enhanced stability to the rapidly growing biopharmaceutical market and to meet demand from global pharmaceutical companies.”

He added that the third plant will be equipped with the best quality and production capability in the world. A fourth and fifth plants are already on the agenda.

The ground-breaking ceremony on Monday was attended by 500 guests, including President Park Geun-hye, Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, several ministers, other key government officials and businessmen.

The third plant comes as Samsung has been conspicuously pushing its drive in the biotech sector. The first sign came when Samsung promoted Christopher Han-sung Ko, 52, former executive vice president of Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture between Samsung Biologics and Biogen, to president and CEO in the annual reshuffle on Dec. 2. He became the youngest president across all Samsung affiliates except for Chairman Lee’s children.

He was recognized for his contribution to developing and launching simultaneously in Korea and Europe a copy of the blockbuster biotech drug Enbrel. The drug, known for treating rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, was released less than three years after the company was established in April 2011.

Clients for biosimilars, or biopharmaceutical approved products that are highly similar to an FDA-approved goods, include Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche.

Samsung BioLogics’ top shareholder is Samsung C&T, which holds a 51 percent stake, and BioLogics owns a 91 percent stake in Bioepis, an R&D arm.

The bio sector is one of five next-generation growth drivers for Samsung that bedridden Chairman Lee Kun-hee named in 2010. They included solar battery, car battery, light-emitting diode and medical equipment.

The medical and bio sectors have yet to show a visible outcome ever since Lee’s announcement, raising speculation that Samsung had ditched them. But his son and de facto top commander in chief Jay Y. Lee has pushed forward with the long-term plan that is expected to feed the top conglomerate over the coming years, when its key profit source smartphone may be outpaced by Apple and Chinese players.

Samsung Bioepis is aiming to list on the Nasdaq by the first half of next year and its new CEO Ko told reporters on Dec. 2 that the company will carry out the plan “as soon as possible.”

BioLogics CEO Kim noted during the ceremony that the company aims to follow in the footsteps of Samsung’s semiconductor business, meaning the goal lies in growing into a leader in both developing and manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.?


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