Business Digest

C&I Issue 1, 2021

Read time: 7 mins

Chemicals giant BASF has completed the first phase of its expansion of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) capacity. The MDI unit at its Geismar, Louisiana site in the US is now operational. By the middle of the decade, in two more stages, BASF expects to double the capacity of MDI from 300,000t/year to ca 600,000t/year.

German pharma major Boehringer Ingelheim is enhancing its cancer pipeline portfolio with the acquisitions of Germanbased biotechnology company Labor Dr. Merk & Kollegen, which develops ATMP-based immuno-oncology therapies, and NBE-Therapeutics, a Swiss biotech company focused on antibody-drug conjugates. No financial details were disclosed for the former acquisition, but the total transaction value of the latter is €1.18bn and includes contingent clinical and regulatory milestones.

Chile-headquartered Botanical Solutions, a start-up company that manufactures plant-based active ingredients and products from botanicals, has secured $3.3m in seed funding and plans a second round of funding in Spring 2021. The funding will allow the company to continue the global rollout of its proprietary biofungicide for sustainable agriculture, and supply pharma with human immune system activators used in Covid-19 and other vaccines.

UK headquartered Carbon Clean, which focuses on low-cost carbon dioxide capture and separation technology, has joined forces with resource management company Veolia to develop multiple green projects in India. The newly established company Veolia Carbon Clean will develop two carbon capture utilisation and storage and compressed biogas projects in India, utilising Carbon Clean’s patented technologies.

Denmark-based chemicals company DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences is partnering with global Finnish chemicals concern Kemira to develop and commercialise DuPont’s enzymatic polymerisation-based polysaccharide platform technology. The collaboration is expected to bring biobased and biodegradable product lines to Kemira’s markets, including paper and board, water treatment and the oil and gas industries.

Global CRO Ergomed, headquartered in Guildford, UK, has acquired MedSource, a US-based oncology and rare disease CRO for $16.2m in cash, up to $1.8m in Ergomed shares and a potential further $7.0m depending on MedSource’s financial performance in 2021. Ergomed will gain over 20 new clients to its CRO business with over a $41m order book of future contracted revenue.

German speciality chemicals company Evonik has increased its capacity for silane-modified poly-α-olefins by 30% with the completion of its plant expansion at the Marl Chemical Park. These polymers adhere to a wide range of plastics, such as polypropylene, polyester and polyamide.

Faze Medicines, a US biotech developing therapeutics based on biomolecular condensates, has launched with Series A financing of $81m. The funding was led by Third Rock Ventures with Novartis Venture Fund, Eli Lilly, AbbVie Ventures, Invus, Catalio Capital Management, Casdin Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments participating.

US biotech Gilead Sciences is to acquire the German biotechnology company MYR for ca €1.15bn in cash. In addition, MYR will be eligible for a potential future milestone payment of up to €300m depending on the development and commercialisation of therapeutics for viral hepatitis.

UK multinational chemicals company Ineos has completed the purchase of the global acetyls and aromatics businesses from BP for $5bn. The businesses will be known as Ineos Acetyls and Ineos Aromatics, respectively.

US agricultural companies Mosaic and BioConsortia are collaborating to develop nitrogen-fixing microbial products designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertiliser needed. The project will use BioConsortia’s patented microbial selection process and other proprietary tools, as well as its nitrogen fixing bacteria. Mosaic will have exclusive rights to the technology for core row crops in the Americas, such as corn, wheat, cotton, and sugarcane. BioConsortia will retain all rights to the technology for fruit, vegetable, turf, and ornamental crops and for all uses outside of the Americas.

Investment by global biopharmaceutical CDMO AGC Biologics to double its production capacity at its site in Denmark. The company will construct a building that will hold 2000L single-use bioreactors, labs and office space. The start-up of operation is scheduled for 2023.

Total cash and shares deal put forward by AstraZeneca to acquire global biopharmaceutical company Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Alexion shareholders will receive $60 in cash and 2.1243 AstraZeneca American Depositary Shares (ADSs) for each Alexion share. The acquisition will aid AstraZeneca in developing immunology-based treatments.

Investment by the European Investment Bank to strengthen local production of APIs in Africa. The investment, initiated together with the not-for-profit kENUP Foundation, will contribute to reducing dependency on drug imports and address medical supply chain weaknesses linked to Covid-19.

Investment by German science and technology company Merck KGaA to expand its manufacturing footprint at its facilities in Danvers, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire, US. These sites supply products to customers developing lifesaving therapies, including Covid-19 vaccines, as well as products and services for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

Total spend expected by Swiss pharma major Novartis to acquire US biopharma Cadent Therapeutics, which focuses on treatments for cognitive and mood disorders. Upon the closing, Cadent will receive a $210m upfront payment and will be eligible for up to $560m in milestone payments.

The US-based International Process Plants and Equipment, which buys and sells plants and process equipment across a variety of industries, together with Chinabased Bluestar Chemical Machinery, has completed commissioning of India’s SR Chemical Group’s chlor-alkali production complex in Northern Bangladesh. The plant will provide 30,000t/year of 32% caustic soda not only for the local textile, paper, water treatment, and disinfectant industries but also for export.

US multinational provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services IQVIA is collaborating with French global pharma company Servier to transform Servier’s R&D clinical development processes. IQVIA will support Servier on process and organisation streams and on change and programme management.

Finland based Metso Outotec, which focuses on sustainable minerals and metals processing and recycling technologies, looks set to build a new technology centre in the City of Tampere. In addition, the company has won a €100m order for delivery of key equipment for a new greenfield zinc plant in Russia.

French drug discovery-focused CRO NovAliX is investing €5.3m in its DNAencoded library (DEL) platform. The money will be used to up-scale the DEL production platform; to design and synthesise libraries by using chemoinformatic tools – enabling it to better sample chemical space.

Russian fertiliser company PhosAgro is to use renewable energy sources at its production and social facilities. The first pilot site will be the corporate health resort in Balakovo, where a 25kWh solar power system has been installed. The company is now assessing the use of wind turbines to generate electricity for the production site in collaboration with scientists from the Yuri Gagarin State Technical University of Saratov in Russia.

German speciality glass manufacturer Schott has started production at its new €60m pharmaceutical tubing factory in China. The plant will produce high-quality borosilicate glass tubing – the base material for pharmaceutical packaging needed for most Covid-19 vaccine projects.

Piramal Pharma Solutions, a CDMO headquartered in Kentucky, US, is investing $32m to expand its facility in Michigan, providing additional capacity for developing and manufacturing APIs.

US healthcare company Rani Therapeutics has raised $69m to advance clinical trials and manufacturing of its proprietary robotic pill, an oral biologics platform designed to replace injectable biologics. The investment will also accelerate clinical development of Rani’s internal pipeline drugs and allow the company to scale up manufacturing.

A Danish partnership between renewable energy developer Skovgaard Invest, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and catalyst company Haldor Topsoe has launched a project to build a 10MW commercialscale green ammonia plant by 2022. The plant, to be located in Western Jutland, Denmark, will produce more than 5000t/year of green ammonia from renewable power, preventing 8,200t/year of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. In addition, Haldor Topsoe is collaborating with Norwegian carbon capture technology company Aker Carbon Capture to produce low-carbon hydrogen. The project will use Haldor Topsoe’s hydrogen process and Aker’s post combustion carbon capture technology.

Saudi Arabian multinational chemical company SABIC is collaborating with Swiss manufacturer of high-performance injection moulding systems KraussMaffei HighPerformance. The partnership will focus on application, material and processing innovations in the thin-wall packaging industry across the segment’s value chain.

Seneca Biopharma, headquartered in Germantown, US, has entered into an agreement with US pharmaceuticals company Leading BioSciences (LBS) under which a subsidiary of Seneca will merge with LBS in an all-stock transaction to create a new company. The combined company, Palisade Bio, will be headquartered in Carlsbad, CA, and will advance LBS’s lead drug candidate to improve restoration of normal GI function following major surgery.

Sabic has collaborated with consumer products major Unilever and plastic packaging producer Greiner Packaging in the development of a new Knorr bouillon container using its PP Flowpact FPC45 certified circular impact polypropylene from its Trucircle family. The phthalatefree copolymer, produced from pyrolysis oil, is compliant with various European food contact regulations and is a drop-in solution for fossil-based plastics. Sabic is also expanding its range of Cycoloy and Lexan resins containing up to 30% post-consumer recycled material, in its Trucircle portfolio, for applications in the consumer electronics business and electrics and electronics industry. The company hopes to increase the PCR content to 60% during 2021.

The UK’s Royal Air Force could soon be using fuel based on up to 50% ‘drop-in’ sustainable sources, including fats and oil, wood waste, household waste and algae, following a change in the UK Ministry of Defence’s aviation fuel standards. Aviation currently accounts almost two-thirds of fuel used across the UK defence sector. It is estimated that by substituting 30% of conventional fuel with an alternative source in a jet travelling 1000 nautical miles could reduce CO2 emissions by 18%.

Royal DSM has partnered with clean-tech company Clariter to investigate a nextgeneration chemical recycling solution for products based on DSM’s Dyneema ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fibre, such as ropes and nets. Samples have been successfully converted at Clariter’s pilot plant in Poland, which uses a three-step recycling process, to produce industrial grade oils, waxes and solvents. Clariter has scheduled commercial-scale trials at its facility in South Africa in 2021.

Researchers at Drexel University, US, have produced ultra-thin spray-applied antennas using a MXene material to replace copper for weight and thickness reductions in 5G mobile devices. MXenes in aqueous solutions have also been used to coat cotton and linen fabrics to block electromagnetic and potentially harmful radiation, offeringa better performance than commercial metal-coated fabrics, without additional processing

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