Lee family victory in Samsung shareholder challenge sets stage for biologics ramp up

A thwarted challenge from an activist investor to block the $8 billion merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries last week has set the stage for family-controlled Samsung Electronics and related units to focus on boosting already rapid growth at Samsung BioLogics and Samsung Bioepis, the Korea Herald reports.

Last week, U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates led a shareholder meeting charge against the merger deal, using its 7.1% holding in the parent to call for a higher valuation and also to challenge the control of the Lee family in running the Samsung conglomerate.

But the challenge was defeated, leaving the family-controlled merged firm with 51.2% of contract manufacturer Samsung BioLogics, which in turn owns a 90.3% stake in Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture with Biogen ($BIIB) that has developed biosimilars of some of the best-selling biologics for autoimmune disease globally, the Korea Herald said.

Another 46.3% of Samsung BioLogics is owned by holding firm Samsung Electronics, which the family effectively controls, the Korea Herald said.

In June, Samsung Bioepis and Samsung BioLogics told investors the biosimilar maker hopes to list on the NASDAQ in the first half of next year. Additionally, the manufacturing arm aims to sharply raise production capacity and become the world's top contract manufacturing organization by 2020, the Korea Economic Daily had previously reported, noting the capacity would, in part, help Samsung Bioepis meet production targets.

Reports said the company could be valued at least $7 billion after listing its shares.

The company is in the late stage of a Phase III global clinical study for SB9, its biosimilar version of Sanofi's ($SNY) blockbuster Lantus, with a filing planned in the U.S. in the latter half of this year and in Europe early next year.

The funds will aid the development of other biosimilars in advanced clinical stages or have either received or await regulatory approvals: Amgen's ($AMGN) Enbrel, Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Remicade, Roche's ($RHHBY) Herceptin and AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira. The company also has a Phase I clinical trial for as biosimilar of Avastin, according to its website.

- here's the story from the Korea Herald