Solvay plans to buy controlling stake in Girindus

Belgian chemicals and pharmaceuticals company Solvay has launched a
bid to acquire at least a 51 per cent stake in German
pharmaceutical and cosmetic ingredients company Girindus,
reports Phil Taylor.

The transaction, which values Girindus at around €45 million, has already been agreed with shareholders holding around 35 per cent of the company's shares, said Solvay. If antitrust and other regulatory approvals are forthcoming the deal should close sometime in the next few months, according to the Belgian firm.

Girindus said the 35 per cent stake in the firm that is being initially acquired by Solvay is owned by Fritz Link and Robert Link, management board members who also represent their family as majority shareholders.

If the deal goes through, Girindus will be combined with Solvay Organics, a German subsidiary of the Solvay group.

Girindus manufactures and develops a portfolio of proprietary chemical specialties and processes. It has built up a particular expertise in the production of oligonucleotides, a position which was recognised last year by the receipt of a Frost & Sullivan award​.

The firm has operations in Germany and the USA, with 140 employees, including 50 highly educated scientists holding PhDs whose competences would complement Solvay's own R&D capabilities, notes the Belgium firm.

"The acquisition of Girindus will mark another step in the implementation of the group's strategy of profitable and sustainable growth,"​ said Dr Eberhard Piepho, managing director of Solvay Organics.

He said the acquisition would complement the group's existing businesses in organic chemical specialties, and will put Solvay 'in a position to offer a range of innovative molecules, materials and solutions for novel applications, hence matching demands from the group's global customer base beyond its current product lines'.

Girindus holds a leading position on the basis of both conventional solid-phase production methods and its recently developed one-of-a-kind solution-phase process for making oligonucleotides.

The market for oligonucleotides is set to more than double in the next few years, promising rewards for those companies that can meet the demand for custom ingredients and manufacturing services, according to F&S. In a report published last year, the company suggested that the market is likely to grow from $340 million (€280m) in 2003 to $776 million in 2010, driven by demand from researchers working in basic research, drug target screening and therapeutic development.

There has been a shift towards solid-phase synthesis for oligonucleotides, because solution-phase approaches tend to be labour-, time-, and skill-intensive largely due to the unpredictable solubility characteristics of the intermediates used. Girindus approach overcomes these limitations, and has the advantage of not requiring the oligonucleotides to be separated from the solid phase base on which they are made.

This is the second acquisition announced by Solvay this year, as part of the group's expansion plans. In a much larger deal, the Belgian firm made a $1.7 billion (€1.4bn) offer to acquire the independent French drugmaker Fournier Pharma. Last year it acquired the Mexican firm Italmex and Swedish firm Neopharma.

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