Allergan recommits to NJ with plans for new, larger U.S. headquarters

Allergan may eschew the Big Pharma label, but it’s moving into a Big Pharma office building. The company is consolidating four of its locations in one big campus in Madison, NJ--a property that used to house Pfizer.

The company had been weighing a U.S. headquarters move to Lansdale, PA, but decided to double down in New Jersey instead. Allergan will combine its U.S. HQ, now in Parsippany, with three other operations scattered among three different New Jersey towns.

By keeping more than 1,000 jobs in the state, promising to add 300 more, and pledging $103 million in local investment, Allergan won $58 million in state incentives for the project.

This isn't the first time Allergan has committed to New Jersey despite other alternatives. The company hasn't been based in New Jersey since 2013, when it bought Ireland's Warner Chilcott to move its domicile to that tax-friendly jurisdiction. Then known as Actavis, the company transferred its "headquarters" to Dublin, but kept its operations centered in the U.S.

"Everybody loves New Jersey too much, so nobody is willing to go," then-CEO Paul Bisaro said when analysts asked whether he'd be relocating, too. "There won't be any management relocation."

Allergan will revamp its future home base over the next year, planning to move in by the end of 2017. Formerly known as 5 Giralda Farms, the 463,000-square-foot site was sold by Pfizer in 2014.

The state figures that the Allergan project will deliver $385 million in economic value to the state over the next 20 years. “Allergan is a significant employer in New Jersey, and its presence adds to the state’s leadership in the pharmaceutical sector,” according to NJ Economic Development Authority CEO Melissa Orsen.

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders said in a statement that the new headquarters facility “brings together key functions of our organization into a single location,” a move that will make the company more efficient and help employees from various departments collaborate. He didn't say where the 300 new jobs would come from, but the company is launching new meds and eyeing M&A for growth, so there are plenty of potential sources.

The pharma business has long been a staple of the New Jersey economy, and it remains so even after cutbacks and consolidations have drained away jobs and left buildings vacant.

Roche ($RHHBY) ditched its Nutley campus last year, opting instead to cross the river into New York, while Novartis handed back more than 365,000 square feet of leased office space in Florham Park. Others have relocated R&D to hot markets like Boston and San Francisco, hoping to tap R&D collaborations, academic centers and scads of biotech activity in those areas.

More recently, the Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo laid off more than 1,000 staffers in the area, but chose to remain in New Jersey by consolidating R&D and commercial functions in Basking Ridge. The troubled drugmaker Valeant doubled the size of its New Jersey headquarters last year to combine operations previously housed elsewhere.

- see the NJEDA release

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