SK bioscience looks to grow even as pandemic wanes
SK bioscience said it will continue to grow even as the pandemic wanes, using 5 trillion won ($4.1 billion) to 6 trillion won on merger and acquisitions (M&As) and developing variant-ready vaccines.
The company held a press conference Thursday to celebrate its one-year anniversary of going public and discussed future plans for its business.
SK bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong said the company has cash assets of 1.6 trillion won and additional future investments will allow the company to use around 5 to 6 trillion won for M&As.
It is planning to acquire firms with cell gene therapy (CGT) technologies and mRNA vaccine technologies and products.
SK bioscience said it will form joint ventures abroad, using the money to acquire a significant stake in the companies it works with.
Although some project that the coronavirus pandemic is waning, the company said there is high demand to build vaccine manufacturing plants in countries without such facilities. SK bioscience is currently in talks with governments and companies in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North America and has plans to establish joint ventures and help them build their first vaccine plants.
The company is confident its Covid-19 vaccine candidate GBP510 will get marketing approval from the government within the first half of this year. It has already signed a 200 billion won deal with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to supply the vaccine when its Phase 3 clinical trials are finished.
Approval from the World Health Organization, Europe and Britain will come by the end of the third quarter this year.
“Some 35 percent of the world’s population didn’t get their first Covid-19 vaccine and only 14.5 percent of people in developing countries had their first shot,” said Ahn at the online press conference. “This means that GBP510 has a lot to contribute to the world.”
SK bioscience is working on developing GBP510 to be used as a booster shot as well.
It is developing a vaccine that will be effective against both the Covid-19 virus and the flu, another that will protect from Covid-19 variants and a vaccine to protect against respiratory viruses.
It is also developing a nasal spray, which could potentially prevent the user from being infected with Covid-19 for a few days after use.
"Contract development and manufacturing organization [CDMO] revenue will inevitably decrease compared to last year's, but revenue from our products will be similar to last year's CDMO revenue," said CEO Ahn.
The company announced it won’t be manufacturing its influenza vaccine SKYCellflu this year, considering the ongoing pandemic and the excess supply of flu vaccines. It had stopped SKYCellflu production last year to ramp up production of Covid-19 vaccines at its manufacturing plant in Andong, North Gyeongsang.