Serum Institute picks up Czech vaccine factory in €72M deal

After offering a few hints into his company’s M&A plans last year, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla struck a deal on Tuesday to pick up a defunct Czech outfit for €72 million.

Through the deal to buy Nanotherapeutics in the Czech Republic, Serum Institute will get a former Baxter flu vaccine factory, the CEO told India’s CNBC-TV18. The vaccine maker plans to invest another €30 million to €40 million to get the plant up and running.

Serum Institute plans to get the factory online in two to three years, Poonawalla said, with the goal of becoming the largest injectable polio vaccine maker in the world by 2020.

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The move follows a move by WHO and other global health experts to recommend polio immunization with inactivated, injectable polio vaccines, for which there’s currently a “huge shortage,” according to Poonawalla. Serum’s new facility will be the largest injectable polio vaccine factory by capacity in the coming years, he told the news station.

Last year, the Serum helmsman predicted that a wave of M&A would sweep over the industry as smaller companies suffer from low prices, ultimately turning to buyouts for relief. At the time, he warned that his own company’s profit would fall by 20% due to low generic prices, but that Serum would look to rebound with new vaccines against pneumococcal disease, rotavirus and rabies.

Founded by Poonawalla’s father Cyrus, Serum is the largest vaccine developer in the world by doses. The company has 23 vaccines in its portfolio and sales in 84 countries, according to the first Access to Vaccines Index.

Tuesday’s purchase follows a 2012 pickup by the vaccine maker for Bilthoven Biologicals, worth about $40 million.