CDMOs SK pharmteco, Oxford Biomedica make cell and gene therapy manufacturing M&A plays

It’s a boom time in the cell and gene therapy market, with manufacturers making moves to secure a larger piece of the pie. Wednesday, two CDMOs revealed acquisitions that will bolster their production capabilities and increase their global presence.

Korean manufacturer SK pharmteco has taken a controlling stake in the Philadelphia-based Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM) for an undisclosed sum. Meanwhile, England’s Oxford Biomedica said it is in talks with Institut Mérieux to buy out its subsidiary, ABL Europe, for 15 million euros ($16 million).

SK’s move comes after it invested $350 million in CBM in January of last year. As part of the agreement, SK had an option to increase its stake, which it exercised, becoming its largest stockholder. CBM was established in 2019 at a former GSK site.

The prior funding allowed CBM to begin building end-to-end manufacturing capabilities. SK boasted that the site will be the world’s largest cell and gene therapy production facility in the world at 650,000 square meters, with roughly 280,000 square meters now operational.

The deal comes on top of SK buying out cell and gene therapy specialist Yposkesi in 2021. The French CDMO has one of Europe’s largest viral vector manufacturing facilities in Corbeil-Essonnes in the suburbs of Paris.

The merger comes less than a year after SK pharmteco's parent, SK bioscience, unveiled a plan to boost development and manufacturing of vaccines and cell and gene therapies, which it dubbed SKBS 3.0.

Meanwhile, Oxford Biomedica’s proposed acquisition of ABL Europe includes viral vector development and manufacturing sites in Lyon and Strasbourg, both in France. ABL Europe works on more than 10 cell and gene therapy programs spanning disease areas that include more than six different vector types.

“This potential acquisition augments our position as a world-leading quality and innovation-led CDMO in the cell and gene therapy field,” Oxford Biomedica CEO Frank Mathias said in a release. 

The announcement came as Oxford accelerated its break-even forecast from the first half of 2025 to the second half of 2024 thanks to expected revenue growth from new and existing clients.