Sartorius picking up TAP Biosystems in $45M deal

With biologic drugs making up a growing percentage of drug sales, more drugmakers are opening biologics plants worldwide. German equipment maker Sartorius Stedim Biotech hopes to tap deeper into that growth with a €33 million ($44.8 million) deal to buy TAP Biosystems.

The Royston, U.K.-based TAP specializes in the design and development of small-scale fermentation systems. Sartorius said Monday that both boards have agreed to the deal, and it will close this year if TAP shareholders sign off. TAP had about €26 million ($35 million) in revenues in 2012 and 2013 and about 160 employees worldwide.

Sartorius CEO Joachim Kreuzburg said TAP fits well into his company's plans to be able to offer clients ways to "accelerate cell line selection, speed-up process development and ultimately help them bring their biologics to market faster." For his part, TAP CEO David Newble said Sartorius' position in the fermentation market is what TAP needs to grow.

Sartorius expanded its capacity last year in single-use bioreactors with an €18 million ($23.3 million) investment in a 10,000-square-foot bioreactor production facility and offices in Guxhagen, Germany. The new complex replaces an older plant in Melsungen that could no longer produce the capacity for the demand the company was seeing.

Both drugmakers and contract manufacturers have been building new biologics plants as more new drugs are cell-based biologics. A surge in biologics manufacturing is also expected as older but highly profitable biologic drugs come off patent and biosimilars are developed to compete with them. U.S.-based Hospira ($HSP), which is partnered with South Korea's Celltrion for a variety of biosimilars, just this month got EU approval for Inflectra, a biosimilar of Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade.

- here's the Sartorius announcement

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