SK Inc. acquires French bio pharm CDMO firm Yposkesi

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SK Inc. acquires French bio pharm CDMO firm Yposkesi

SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun, center, closes a deal with Genethon's CEO ]Frederic Revah and Magali Joessel, director of Bpifrance for the acquisition of bio firm Yposkesi on Wednesday. [SK INC.]

SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun, center, closes a deal with Genethon's CEO ]Frederic Revah and Magali Joessel, director of Bpifrance for the acquisition of bio firm Yposkesi on Wednesday. [SK INC.]

 
SK Inc., the holding company of SK Group, has acquired a French biologics company that specializes in contract manufacturing.
 
The deal to acquire a controlling stake in Yposkesi opens the door for SK to join the rapidly growing market for contract manufacturing of biologic pharmaceuticals — a business that would likely have taken years of investments to enter.
 
On Wednesday, SK Inc. closed the deal to acquire a 70 percent in Yposkesi from France’s Genethon, a non-profit research center that specializes in genetic diseases.
 
Having spun off from Genethon in 2016, Yposkesi is a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) specialized in the field of cell and gene therapy, referring to biological treatments that alter cell and gene information to cure diseases. Genethon is a European leader in the field.
 
CDMOs engage in the early stages of developing a client’s products and also take charge of mass production.
 
For SK Inc., this is the third cross-border merger with a pharmaceutical contract manufacturer, following deals in Ireland and the United States. But while the other two were producers of chemical drugs, Yposkesi is the first to engage in bio pharmaceuticals.
 
SK is betting that gene and cell therapy will become huge in the bio pharmaceutical market.  
 
At the moment, antibody treatments take up the bulk of the market, but according to a Deloitte report SK cited, the market for gene and cell therapy is anticipated to grow at an annual 25 percent per year by 2025.
 
“Apart from two to three companies at the very top of the global CMO industry, it is rare to find a player that is making an aggressive entrance into the gene and cell therapy sector,” the company said in a statement.  
 
“We see it as an opportunity that could help us make a big leap into the global CMO industry.”
 
The investment in Yposkesi also creates an opportunity for SK to partner with Genethon, one of Europe’s leaders in the research of rare diseases and gene therapy that took part in the Human Genome Project in the early 1990s. Following SK’s acquisition, Genethon will still have a 25 percent stake in the company while the other 5 percent will remain with state-owned investment bank, Bpifrance.
 
Genethon will remain a customer at Yposkesi and continue research work with its former affiliate and SK.
 
At SK, Yposkesi will become a subsidiary under SK Pharmteco, along with SK’s other contract manufacturing units. SK Pharmteco is currently a wholly owned subsidiary under SK Inc., but the company plans for it to go public in 2023. SK Pharmteco last year raised 700 billion won ($620 million) in revenue, SK said.  
 
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON  [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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