South Korea's SK Group moving ahead on biopharmaceutical M&A

South Korea's SK Group, the parent of SK Biopharmaceutical, may spend upward of $1 billion to acquire two more European or North American companies to beef up its biopharmaceutical business, which it sees as a future engine of growth for the company.

The Seoul-based company is close to finalizing at least two deals, each worth up to $500 million, according to a report in the Korea Herald. The companies in question would be makers of "starting materials" used in biopharmaceuticals.

A company spokesman said in the report that SK was "actively looking into potential M&As to strengthen our biotech capabilities, in line with our stated plans to nurture the segment as one of our future growth engines."

The planned deals are in lines with the company's recent moves to increase its exposure to the biopharmaceutical industry that is led by its new drug developing unit, SK Biopharmaceutical, which makes the same "starting materials" used for biopharmaceuticals.

SK wants to compete with companies like Lonza and Boehringer Ingelheim and at home wants to compete with Samsung BioLogics, which itself has been increasing its biopharma capabilities.

"All of our business decisions are geared at strengthening our overall biopharma business, including new drug development and manufacturing," the SK spokesman told the Korea Herald.

SK Biopharmaceutical announced last year it was moving to Phase III trials of a treatment for sleep disorders that would be handled overseas by its partner Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

- here's the report from the Korea Herald