Lotte Biologics plots $77M investment at former BMS plant, where it aims to add 70 jobs

More details have emerged surrounding Lotte Group’s gung-ho push into the contract manufacturing arena, which first kicked off in May with the purchase of a Bristol Myers Squibb manufacturing plant in East Syracuse, New York.

Now, Lotte Biologics says it will add about 70 jobs to the BMS’ plants existing workforce of 450, local publication reports, citing comments made by the Korean CDMO’s chief executive, Richard Lee, at the 2022 Bio International Convention in San Diego.

Further, Lotte plans to pump around $77 million into the plant to boost capacity for its contract manufacturing ambitions, Korean news outlet Chosun Biz reported separately.

Lotte did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for confirmation of the details.

Back in May, Lotte telegraphed its drugmaking debut with the $160 million purchase of a BMS plant in East Syracuse.

A little more than a month after that, the company revealed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Merck KGaA’s North American subsidiary, MilliporeSigma, to team up on the build-out of Lotte’s U.S. biologics business. The deal will see MilliporeSigma become a preferred supplier to Lotte, offering technical consulting, training and more.

Meanwhile, Lotte already has a contract in place to continue making four drugs for BMS at the plant, which notes would be worth about $220 million in sales over the next three years. Beyond that deal, Lotte also plans to make drugs for other companies at the facility.

As things stand in East Syracuse, however, the plant is in need of an upgrade thanks to limited current capacity for contract manufacturing, Lee said, as quoted by the Korea JoongAng Daily. He added that the company aims to kick off contract manufacturing services from the plant in 2023.

While the East Syracuse plant will be Lotte’s only contract manufacturing site to start, the company is also weighing a potential $776 million investment in a massive South Korean production site, too, Lee said.

“We are currently receiving many calls from many local governments, including Incheon, and are open to all possibilities,” Lee said, as quoted by the South Korean publication. “Korea is a very suitable country to have a CDMO plant considering expenses such as labor cost and raw materials.”

Lotte Biologics officially surfaced on June 7 as a biopharma subsidiary of Lotte, Korea’s fifth-largest conglomerate. The parent company is also engaged in the food and beverage, retail, chemical and hotel service sectors.