U.K.'s Abzena shells out $8.4M for San Diego-based CDMO

U.K.-based Abzena raised some cash last year with an IPO. Now the pharma services company has taken some of its cash and shares and bought itself a U.S. manufacturing outpost in California.

Abzena said Monday that it acquired contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) PacificGMP in a deal valued at about $8.4 million, $7.7 million in cash and the rest in warrants for shares.

Abzena CEO John Burt

"PacificGMP provides us with an ideal opportunity to expand our service offering into the high growth biopharmaceutical manufacturing arena and to establish an operational footprint in the U.S.," Abzena CEO John Burt said in a statement.

San Diego-based PacificGMP had revenues of about $3 million last year, and Abzena said it would immediately add to its top line. It provides contract process development and manufactures biopharmaceuticals including monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, vaccines and cell therapy products. Services include conjugation of antibodies and proteins and fill and finish work.

While the Abzena deal is a small one it is part of the spate of consolidations in the contract manufacturing realm as players look to add size, services and geographic reach to attract Big Pharma. The most prominent example has been Patheon, the rapidly expanding CDMO that is part of DPx. It has made a series of acquisitions that include two deals earlier this year for Agere Pharmaceuticals, a Bend, OR-based company that helps clients improve the absorption rates of their medications, and one for IRIX Pharmaceuticals to get its expertise in making difficult APIs.

But other significant players have been snatching up assets, particularly in the biologics realm, to be able to provide those services as Big Pharma fills its pipelines with large-molecule drug candidates. Japan's Fujifilm last year bought a half interest in vaccine maker Kalon Biotherapeutics. China's Wuxi PharmaTech ($WX), has just been building its own biologics and cell line facilities. In May it started construction on a $150 million plant in China, after already starting on new facilities in the U.S.

- here's the announcement