Business digest

C&I Issue 4, 2021

Read time: 5 mins

US biopharma AbbVie is working with investment bank Morgan Stanley on an auction process to sell a $5bn portfolio of women’s drugs acquired through its 2020 acquisition of Allergan.

US multinational healthcare company Abbott, headquartered in Illinois, has set up the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition, a global scientific and public health partnership dedicated to the early detection of future pandemic threats. Sequences of viruses that are found will be published in a public database as part of the collaboration.

US biotech Amathus Therapeutics is collaborating with US pharma major Merck & Co to develop small molecule therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. Merck has the option to acquire Amathus Therapeutics and its candidate drugs. For this Amathus will receive an upfront payment from Merck and will be eligible for milestone payments associated with the successful development of candidates in excess of $500/programme.

Virtual development pharma company Amzell, based in the Netherlands, has acquired Bazell Pharma, an R&D laboratory facility based in Allschwil, Switzerland.

AstraZeneca has completed the divestment of its 26.7% ownership in US biotechnology company Viela Bio for a cash sum of $775m. This is part of the proposed acquisition of Viela by Horizon Therapeutics. In addition, the UK pharma major has extended its agreement with the Aptamer Group to evaluate the potential of using Aptamer’s proprietary technology to target renal cells and develop drug delivery vehicles.

Chemicals major BASF has signed biosurfactant agreements with Japan-based Allied Carbon Solutions (ACS) and UK-based start-up Holiferm. The agreement with ACS includes an equity stake and an exclusive technology cooperation, commercial agreement, and product development for sophorolipids, a class of glycolipids. The agreement with Holiferm provides BASF with an opportunity to develop and manufacture other sustainable classes of glycolipids for use in a range of products.

UK biotech Axol Bioscience, which focuses on human cell cultures for research, drug discovery and toxicology assessment, is merging with UK cell biology CRO Censo Biotechnologies. The new entity will provide product and service solutions in the iPSC-based neuroscience, immune cell, and cardiac modelling for drug discovery and screening markets.

UK pharma major GSK and Boston Pharmaceuticals, a portfolio company of US private equity company Gurnet Point Capital, have entered into a three-year out-license and option agreement to advance multiple pre-phase two programmes. The first two programmes are in oncology and CNS disorders.

UK energy giant BP is planning to build a ‘blue hydrogen’ plant at its Teesside UK site. The facility would target production of 1gW of hydrogen production by 2030 and would capture and store 2mt of CO2/year. The development is expected to contribute to the UK Government’s target of developing 5gW of hydrogen production by 2030.

Cancer Research UK and Capital Enterprise, a professional network for UK start-ups, together with pharmaceutical company Roche UK, have launched Cancer Tech Accelerator. The initiative will provide academic researchers with business and technical skills required to develop their ideas into a start-up venture.

Multinational global drug delivery and manufacturing company Catalent is expanding its partnership with Janssen Pharmaceutica and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, two of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson. Catalent Biologics will now increase its manufacturing capacity in Anagni, Italy, for the large-scale commercial supply of Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine through to 2022.

Swiss-German CDMO Celonic Group is collaborating with University College London, UK, to produce therapeutic proteins using Celonic’s proprietary cell expression technology. The partnership will establish stable high-performance cell lines for the expression of recombinant human proteins and variants for planned proof-of-concept clinical trials.

Cash offer from China-headquartered CRO Pharmaron to acquire UK-based Allergan Biologics from AbbVie. The transaction is expected to close in Q2 2021, subject to customary closing conditions.

Initial price agreed by ANI Pharmaceuticals to acquire Novitium Pharma, a US-based pharma company with development and manufacturing capabilities. The deal includes $89.5m paid in cash and $74m in equity plus two potential future cash earn-outs of up to $46.5m. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory and various approvals.

Investment by US multinational biotech Biogen to build a gene therapy manufacturing facility at its Research Triangle Park manufacturing campuses in North Carolina. The facility is expected to be operational by 2023.

Total amount to be paid by US speciality chemicals and materials company Grace, based in Columbia, MA, to acquire fine chemistry services business of Albemarle. This deal includes $300m in cash and $270m funded through the issuance to Albemarle of non-participating preferred equity of a newly created Grace subsidiary.

Investment by US life sciences provider Thermo Fisher Scientific to more than double its bioprocessing production capabilities by 2022. This increase in manufacturing will support biopharma customers to meet demands related to Covid-19 and develop new vaccines and biologics for other conditions.

US multinational energy company Chevron , together with technology supplier Schlumberger New Energy, Microsoft and US-based Clean Energy Systems, is developing a bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration plant in Mendota, CA. The plant will convert agricultural waste biomass into a renewable synthesis gas that will be mixed with oxygen in a combustor to generate electricity.

UK-based battery manufacturer AMTE Power and Sheffield-based Faradion, which manufactures sodium-ion battery technology, are joining forces to offer safer transportation and maintenance of batteries for a range of renewable energy applications, including residential energy storage, commercial micro-grids, wind turbine and tidal energy storage.

Japanese multinational conglomerate Fujifilm has selected Holly Springs, NC, as the location for its $2bn large-scale US cell culture production site. Diosynth Biotechnologies, a subsidiary of Fujifilm, with development and manufacturing facilities across the US, UK, and Denmark, will operate the facility.

Global healthcare company Grifols has acquired the remaining 56% share capital of US biotechnology company GigaGen for $80bn. GigaGen portfolio comprises recombinant polyclonal antibodies, including an immunoglobulin for the treatment of Covid-19, which is expected to be evaluated in a Phase 1 trial in the U.S in 2021.

Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute and The Royal Institution, UK, in collaboration with the Mayor of London, have launched the Centre for Climate Change Innovation. The centre will support new technologies, techniques, policies, and businesses to deliver a zero carbon and climate-resilient future.

Inovyn, a subsidiary of UK multinational chemicals company Ineos, plans to build a clean hydrogen supply hub at its chemical manufacturing site in Rafnes, Norway. The development will contribute towards the decarbonisation of Ineos’ operations and the wider transport sector, and includes a 20MW electrolyser to produce the hydrogen.

Swiss chemicals major Clariant has opened its One Clariant Campus in Shanghai, China, which will be home to the company’s Greater China Operational headquarters and Innovation Center China. In addition, the company is partnering with India Glycols to establish renewable ethylene oxide (EO) derivatives. India Glycols will contribute its renewable bio-EO derivative business to the venture. Clariant will contribute its local Industrial and consumer specialties business in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, held by Clariant India, as well as a net cash payment to attain a 51% stake and thus majority ownership.

US software company Insightful Science is set to acquire UK-headquartered scientific informatics company Dotmatic, which has a cloud-based R&D data management platform.

German specialty chemicals company Lanxess has acquired French biocide company Intace. The Paris-based company manufactures specialty fungicides for the packaging industry.

German science and technology company Merck KGaA is investing €25m to add a single-use assembly production unit at its Life Science Center in Molsheim, France. This technology is used to produce Covid-19 vaccines and other therapies. In addition, the company has announced that it is changing the name of its performance materials business sector to electronics.

US diversified industrial manufacturer Milliken has acquired German chemicals company Zebra-chem, which is known for its peroxide and blowing agent masterbatches. Peroxide masterbatches make it possible to incorporate up to 100% recycled content into plastics.

With funding of over £100,000 from Medical Research Scotland, biotech company ScotBio is expanding its R&D programme to explore the potential of cyanobacteria to treat viral pathogens, including coronaviruses. ScotBio will work in collaboration with Infection Medicine at the University of Edinburgh to investigate how cyanobacterial extracts can be commercially mass produced using ScotBio’s production processes and used in the treatment of viral diseases.

Japanese pharma major Takeda Pharmaceutical is exercising its option to acquire Maverick Therapeutics, a US-based biopharma focusing on T-cell targeted immunotherapies.

Chinese biotech WuXi Biologics has entered into an equity agreement with Pfizer China to acquire its biologics manufacturing facilities. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021. In addition, WuXi looks set to acquire over 90% of China-based CDMO CMAB Biopharma from healthcare investment firm CBC Group.

Drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola is to test market a paper bottle prototype in Hungary for the plant-based drink AdeZ in summer 2021. The bottle has been developed in a partnership with The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco), a Danish startup supported by ALPLA and BillerudKorsnäs, in cooperation with Carlsberg, L’Oreal and The Absolut Company. The 100% recyclable bottles are made from sustainably-sourced wood with a biobased material barrier, but the aim is to develop a bottle without the plastic liner.

Metals and materials supplier Goodfellow has expanded its green production initiative to include ultra-pure, metal-free ‘green’ graphene produced using a rapid and highly scalable ‘green’ production process. Also included in the expanded initiative is a range of biopolymers produced from renewable resources, and lightweight foams and honeycombs.

Bayer has launched Vanity Citrus, a biological and pheromone-based crop protection product designed to control pests on citrus farms, including California red louse, citrus cotonet and South African cotonet (see p15). It comprises a container with the liquid product providing 400 days of pest control that contains the pheromones that interfere with insect’s breeding and natural pyrethrum, and does not generate resistance or residues in harvests or the environment. It is currently being used in Spain.

DSM Engineering Materials has launched biobased Arnitel thermoplastic elastomer, which is being used by membrane manufacturer Sympatex Technologies for waterproof, windproof and breathable sports apparel. The membranes are 100% recyclable, PTFE- and PCF-free. Manufactured using a mass-balance approach, Arnitel contains more than 25% biobased content by weight.

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