At the opening ceremony for the TOTAL 2004 show in Birmingham, UK, this week, Borjesson told In-Pharmatechnologist.com that although pharmaceuticals is still a tiny portion of Rexam's business - with sales of less than $100 million (€82m) a year out of a group turnover of around $6 billion - it has many qualities that mean it remains a core focus for the group.
"Pharmaceuticals is still a small sector but has many of the qualities we are looking for, such as strong intellectual property," he said, adding that the company is investing a lot of time, money and skill into the sector because a successful product can lead to a long-term, lucrative relationship with the customer.
However, when Rexam disposed of its Rexam Healthcare Flexibles division last August, there was speculation that it may signal an exit from the pharmaceutical business for the group, which has spent the last eight years - the duration of Borjesson's tenure as CEO - dissolving its huge conglomerate structure that back in 1996 had 150 different units producing everything from "diesel engines to lipstick cases."
Borjesson would not be drawn on whether further acquisitions may be on the cards in pharma - the group snapped up Risdon Pharma last June for €125m - but he stressed that Rexam's recent expansion in plastics is underpinning the move into small, IP-rich segments, including pharmaceuticals, referring to the latter by name several times in a speech to open the TOTAL show. The latter sector is interesting, he noted, because of the convergence of packaging as a means of carrying and protecting a drug and a delivery system - such as an inhaler - that is an intrinsic component of its efficacy.
And in the future? Borjesson sees a continuing drive towards packaging that uses technology to have a real function in pharmaceuticals, such as microelectronics that can check doses have been taken and 'track and trace' products from the producer to the patent.
Borjesson will be standing down as CEO of Rexam next week to become the chairman of the UK-headquartered group.