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Novartis invests in Chinese vaccine maker

By Gareth Macdonald , 28-Mar-2011

Novartis has acquired a majority stake in vaccine maker Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical, continuing its efforts to accelerate revenue growth in China.

The deal gives Novartis an 85 per cent holding in Hangzhou City-headquartered Tianyuan and, according to the Swiss drugmaker, will help it introduce vaccines into China’s $1bn (€708m) a year market.

Andrin Oswald, Novartis’ head of vaccines and diagnostics, said: “This agreement combines the strength of our vaccines R&D strategy and pipeline with Tianyuan’s deep knowledge of the vaccines market in China.”

Novartis first announced its plan to buy shares in Tianyuan in 2009, explaining at the time that the $125m investment would need to be approved China’s government.

News of the completion follows just days after CEO Joe Jimenez predicted recovery of Novartis sales growth in China, which last year fell below the 30 per cent rate the firm saw in 2009.

Jimenez told the Wall Street Journal that while shifting operations from Novartis' former base in Beijing to several regions had slowed growth in 2010, the firm still achieved double digit sales gains in the country.

He also highlighted China’s vaccines sector as an important market for the firm's efforts to accelerate sales growth.

The Tianyuan deal is one of several Novartis has made in China in the last few years that began with its $250m investment in an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) plant in Changshu.

More recently Novartis announced plans to increase its sales and marketing force in China.

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