Busy WuXi starts construction on China's largest biologics manufacturing plant

Wuxi PharmaTech CEO Ge Li

WuXi Biologics said it has begun construction of a $150 million manufacturing facility for its biologics unit, which it lists as being the largest biologics manufacturing facility of any kind in China.

The plant will be the world's largest for producing mammalian cell cultures using disposable bioreactors, the company said in a press release.

When completed, as intended by the end of next year, the plant is to house 14 disposable bioreactors with a capacity of 2,000 liters and two of 1,000 liters.

WuXi Biologics is a wholly owned subsidiary of WuXi PharmaTech ($WX), which expects the new plant to add to its pipeline of biologics in the near term and in the long run maintain the company's position as a leading global player.

The parent WuXi PharmaTech is in play in a management-led effort to take the firm private.

The move follows a furious year in which it expanded from lab, contract research and manufacturing services into genomics, e-commerce and clinical screening testing, highlighting a percolating scene in newer Asian pharma and biotech that sets the stage for dealmaking.

The plans include a major investment announced this year in a U.S. plant in Philadelphia designed for cell therapy products, including chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies.

The company's CEO, Ge Li, and Ally Bridge Group Capital Partners say that a buyout would give the Chinese company's shareholders a 16.2% premium and is a square deal for potential value.

On April 30, Ge Li and ABG proposed buying all of the WuXi shares they don't already own for $46 each, valuing the company at roughly $2.8 billion. ABG and Li, also the company's chairman, submitted a nonbinding proposal letter to WuXi's board.

- here's the WuXi release