Acquisitions pay off for Novozymes ingredients in 2007

By Pete Mansell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Biotechnology, Cell culture

The small but fast-growing biopharmaceutical ingredients (BPI)
business of Denmark's Novozymes, the leading manufacturer of
industrial enzymes worldwide, delivered a strong performance in
2007, with sales rising 67 per cent despite a sharp decline in the
fourth quarter.

BPI sales were DKK 224 million (€30m) last year compared with DKK 134 million in 2006, a rise of 64per cent in local currencies. Acquisitions made during 2006, notably the UK's Delta Biotechnology (now Novozymes Biopharma UK) in July of that year and the Australian GroPep (Novozymes Biopharma AU) in December, provided much of the momentum, contributing around DKK 118 million to sales of biopharmaceutical ingredients in 2007. The BPI segment's performance would have been even more impressive had it not been for a 69 per cent drop in sales (in Danish kroner) for the fourth quarter, which Novozymes put down to "an anticipated decline in contract volume, together with a change in the quarterly sales distribution​" during 2007. As has previously been noted, the company added, "this industry is subject to substantial quarterly variation in sales patterns, as sales are generally composed [of] a small number of relatively large transactions​". This was borne out by the quarter-to-quarter breakdown of sales in the BPI segment. They were DKK 120 million in the first quarter of 2007, DKK 51 million in the second quarter, DKK 30 million in Q3 and DKK 23 million in Q4. Novozymes is also predicting a downturn in BPI sales for 2008, when they are expected to fall by around 15 per cent against 2007. This assumption is based on an anticipated decline in contract volumes this year, while the active ingredient sales for clinical trials seen in 2007 are not expected to materialise in 2008. The forecast for long-term sales growth of 10-15 per cent in the BPI segment remains unchanged, though. Biopharmaceutical ingredients accounted for just 3 per cent of Novozymes' sales in 2007, 93 per cent of which were various categories of enzymes (detergent, technical, food, etc); microorganisms made up the remaining 4 per cent. The company reported total sales of DKK 7,438 million for the year, up by 9 per cent over 2006 or by 14 per cent in local currencies. Operating profit rose by 11 per cent to DKK 1,481 million and net profit was 14 per cent higher at DKK 1,042 million. The relatively modest contribution of biopharmaceutical ingredients to overall sales masks five consecutive years of significant growth for the segment, which was generating only around DKK 25 million in 2003. Novozymes' firm commitment to diversification into the biopharmaceutical sector is reflected in the reporting of BPI sales as a separate business unit for the first time in 2007. Previously they were recorded as part of the technical enzymes segment. The focus for the BPI business 2007 was on integrating the activities acquired in 2006 and completing the expansion of the company's plant in Lund, Sweden for cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) production, Novozymes noted. It also entered into a number of partnerships aimed at developing biopharmaceutical ingredients for future pharmaceutical production, which "target sales some years into the future and follow Novozymes' long-term strategy for this segment​". Another indication of the company's ambitions in this field was the generous portion of R&D resources allocated to BPI and microorganisms combined during 2007 - about 15 per cent of the total, with the remaining 85 per cent going to enzymes. Research projects included antimicrobial peptides, the development of production methods for glucose-based chemicals, biopolymers, substrates for cell cultures, recombinant human albumin and enzymes for medicines that alleviate the effects of reduced pancreatic secretion. Novozymes' biopolymers profile was raised in 2007 by the launch of HyaCare, its hyaluronic acid based on fermentation of Bacillus subtilis​. Applications include eye care, wound care, dermatology and cosmetics. The company's BPI business spans recombinant products for mammalian cell culture and protein drug formulation, such as albumin (e.g., Recombumin), growth factors (LONG R IGF-1, LONG EGF) and transferrin (DeltaFerrin); technologies such as yeast-based protein expression and the Albufuse albumin fusion process for extending the half-life of protein-based drugs; and bioprocess manufacturing services (cell banking, process development, etc). In April 2007 Novozymes established Biopharmaceutical Ingredients as a dedicated business unit, headquartered in Nottingham, UK (home base of the acquired Delta Biotechnology) and with an initial focus on launching a range of animal-free recombinant ingredients for industrial-scale mammalian cell culture. The first three products in this range were introduced the following month.

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