SK’s pharma unit buys an Irish facility from BMS

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SK’s pharma unit buys an Irish facility from BMS


SK’s pharmaceutical arm has signed an agreement to purchase a pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing plant in Swords, Ireland from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), the companies announced Sunday.

This is the first time a Korean firm has bought an entire production facility from a global pharmaceutical company. The two companies will complete the transaction by the fourth quarter. Terms of the deal are unknown.

SK Biotek, a wholly owned subsidiary of SK Holdings, said it would operate the plant as a stand-alone Contract Development Manufacturing Organization (CDMO), and intends to add marketing, research and development talent, and invest in upgrades to bring additional capacity to the site.

“This transaction is an important step to achieve our goal of becoming a leading global CDMO,” said Park Jun-ku, CEO of SK Biotek. “It allows us to enhance the technological and manufacturing capacity and build long-term partnerships with existing and new customers.”

The company chose to invest in Ireland because of the welcoming business environment and the talented workforce, he said.

The Swords facility manufactures ingredients for a number of medicines including BMS’s and Pfizer’s Eliquis. The facility has produced medicines that have helped millions of people fight serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and psychiatric disorders. SK Biotek will take over some 300 workers at the facility.

“Today’s agreement is an important step in the ongoing evolution of our manufacturing network to support the company’s innovative portfolio,” said Lou Schmukler, president of global product development & supply at New York-headquartered BMS.

The acquisition of the plant is expected to help SK Biotek widen its global footprint. While SK’s key businesses are energy, chemicals, IT and semiconductors, it has also been making significant investments in the pharmaceutical business for over two decades.

The unlisted SK subsidiary posted 101.2 billion won ($89.2 million) in revenue and 29.4 billion won in operating profit last year and aims to achieve 1.5 trillion won revenue by 2020 on upbeat prospects for the global pharmaceutical industry as customers continue to live longer.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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