Nycomed buys majority stake in Chinese firm Guangdong Techpool Bio-Pharma for $210 million

Nycomed now owns 51.34% of the shares of Techpool, a fast-growing Chinese pharmaceutical company based, demonstrating the importance of China in Nycomed's emerging markets strategy

Jeffrey Bouley
ZURICH, Switzerland—Demonstrating the importance of China in its emerging markets strategy, Nycomed has, as of the beginning of November, significantly expanded its presence in China through the acquisition of a majority stake in Guangdong Techpool Bio-Pharma Co. Ltd. (Techpool), what it calls "a fast-growing Chinese bio-pharmaceutical company." Nycomed laid out $210 million to buy 51.34 percent of the shares of the Guangdong-based company.

Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group, a leading Chinese pharmaceutical conglomerate, holds 40.8 percent of the shares of Techpool and had previously been the majority shareholder.

In addition to strengthening it position in China, Nycomed reports that it gains access to a leading, high quality manufacturer of biologic and protein-based drugs with international potential and creates an enhanced commercialization base for such products as Pantoloc, Ebrantil and Actovegin  in China.

"The acquisition of the majority stake in Techpool provides us with a unique opportunity to strengthen our business in China, one of the world's fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets." says Hakan Bjorklund, CEO of Nycomed. "Techpool's specialty franchise is highly complementary to Nycomed's development strategy and will become a cornerstone of our international expansion in emerging markets."

Techpool has developed and launched a number of protein-based drugs, including Ulinastatin, a broad-acting trypsin inhibitor, which is a leading compound in the treatment of sepsis and multiple organ dysfunctions. There is also Kallikrein, a serine protease, which is used as a neuroprotective agent in the treatment of stroke.

Techpool's products are sold across China and exported to a number of countries and regions, including Japan and South Korea. The company has built a strong intellectual property position, with 35 patents filed, of which 17 have already been granted, including one U.S. patent approval.

In its own news release about the share acquisition, Techpool noted,  that even as Nycomed is strengthening its market share and showing a keen interest to expand in Asia—in particular China—Techpool itself sees Nycomed's involvement as a way to "boost the process of Techpool's internationalization," adding, "Nycomed's global resources in the pharmaceutical industry, its advanced management expertise and Techpool's specialty franchise and marketing experience in the China market, combined with Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group's extensive sales network in China, will further enhance Techpool's R&D capabilities, business development and its operations. We will then be able to improve Techpool's core competitiveness continually to ensure a more sustainable development of the company."

Techpool reports that it is exploring the possibility of partnering with Nycomed in a number of areas, including:
  • Exploring the potential synergy in marketing with Nycomed to enhance product coverage, as well as synergies in the treatment of critical diseases, stroke and gastroenterology
  • Using Nycomed's global network, overseas pharmaceutical registration experience and strong R&D platform to evaluate the feasibility of developing Kallikrein and Ulinastatin for the overseas market, and to discuss other potential global development strategies
  • Further improving the capabilities of Techpool's workforce in relation to production, quality control, sales and marketing, among others, through sharing success stories with each other, or having Nycomed experts provide on-site training/guidance.
For its part, Nycomed believes there is significant potential for the continued strong growth of Techpool's key products through expanded hospital and reimbursement coverage in China.

While Nycomed China and Techpool will be run as separate companies, value will be created through various forms of alliances between the two entities, Nycomed officials report. The two companies will continue to expand their footprint in China and will focus their efforts around five core brands: Ulinastatin, Kallikrein, Pantoloc, Ebrantil and Actovegin.

"This is a great opportunity for Nycomed and Techpool to build a strong player in the area of pharmaceuticals and biologics in China. Techpool's capabilities across the entire value chain were developed under the leadership of a formidable management team, headed by the founder and CEO Dr. Fu," says Guido Oelkers, executive vice president of commercial operations at Nycomed. "This team will play a pivotal role for Nycomed's future expansion in China and the strong support of Techpool's existing shareholders, in particular Shanghai Pharmaceutical, makes us even more optimistic about our prospects in this exciting market."
 

Jeffrey Bouley

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