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CBI forms outsourcing services joint venture with Venturepharm
April 2008
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RICHMOND, Va.óWith plans to offer a comprehensive suite of outsourcing services to the global pharmaceutical industry, Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc. (CBI), a provider of research and development products and services to the life sciences industry, has formed a joint venture with Venturepharm Laboratories Ltd. (VPL), a publicly-listed pharmaceutical research service company in Beijing, China.

The joint venture is considered unusual in that both contributing organizations are already publicly traded, but it follows a recent pattern of contract research organizations (CROs) in the West and the East forming alliances to provide a greater number of services in a geographically diversified manner.

VPL will provide contract manufacturing and clinical trial services to the joint venture, which will be known as Venturepharm Asia.

CBI will provide early stage drug discovery technologies, business development, marketing and quality assurance services.

The joint venture will be the "shop front" for VPL's global CRO services. VPL has become a cornerstone investor by purchasing a 39 percent stake in San Diego-based CBI. The 2.15 million block of shares, which previously belonged to PharmAust Ltd., has a market value of $5.85 million.

"Our investment in CBI and the establishment of Venturepharm Asia are the first steps in establishing a growth-oriented and highly profitable business relationship between VPL and CBI," says Dr. Bill Guo, chairman and CEO of VPL. "Ultimately, this partnership enhances the product offering of both companies by providing customers with a fully-integrated suite of quality assured drug discovery, development and production services."

For CBI, Venturepharm Asia will allow the company to offer contract manufacturing and clinical trial management to clients who have used the company for its custom synthesis and other services.

In addition to the joint venture with VPL, CBI operates four other distinct business units: CBI Services, a discovery phase contract research organization; Fairfax Identity Laboratories, a DNA reference business; Mimotopes Pty. Ltd., in Melbourne, Australia, a peptide and discovery chemistry business; and Exelgen Ltd., in Bude, England, a medicinal and synthetic discovery chemistry business.

Collectively, CBI companies directly employ more 100 staff in world-class laboratories. The Venturepharm Asia joint venture will give CBI indirect access to more 2,000 staff.

"In establishing this partnership with VPL, CBI is taking account of China's growing importance in drug discovery and development," says Dr. Paul D'Sylva, CEO of CBI.

"Venturepharm Asia brings together the best of what the West and the East can offer in the pharmaceutical outsourcing industry by providing fast, secure, high quality and innovative services at globally competitive prices. The JV is of enormous strategic value to CBI because it builds upon our high-quality custom synthesis products and services and enables us to expand our suite of services into the large and growing market segments of contract manufacturing and clinical trial management."

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