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Crucell strengthens vaccine portfolio with SBL purchase

By Anna Lewcock , 28-Nov-2006

Dutch biotech company Crucell said last week that it had completed its acquisition of SBL Vaccin in an agreement worth €39.4m, but remained tight-lipped about its plans for the Swedish firm's contract manufacturing business.

SBL's core product – and by far the main interest for Crucell - is Dukoral, an oral vaccine used to protect against cholera and ETEC (traveller's diarrhoea) and registered in over 50 countries. In 2004 SBL branched out into contract manufacturing, offering manufacture of biological bulk/active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and finished products for clinical trials as well as for market supply. This section of the business is very much secondary to the company's main focus on vaccine production and sales, but was intended to allow access to new ideas and fulfill production capacity. Crucell was unable to offer any comment on their plans for this section of the business, so it is unclear whether the firm will expand their capabilities by branching out in contract manufacturing further or continue to focus solely on their developing and copmmercialising vaccine portfolio. While SBL's contract manufacturing arm is currently fairly limited, a spokesman for the company asserted that they do not expect to lose their current customers. Crucell also recently acquired Florida-based Berna Products Corp (BPC) in October 2006, which gave them full control of the company's oral typhoid vaccine Vivotif. This latest acquisition is set to further strengthen Crucell's travel vaccines portfolio, as well as providing access to market-leading sales and marketing capabilities. The company's current catalogue includes vaccines against hepatitis B, five childhood diseases, and influenza, as well as travel vaccines including the market's only aluminium-free hepatitis B vaccine. Crucell intends to raise €80 million through the issue of new ordinary shares in order to fund the SBL acquisition, as well as refinance the BPC purchase and further corporate costs.

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