Current Edition

CordenPharma, part of Germany’s mRNA contingency plan, sold to private equity outfit Astorg

Contract manufacturer CordenPharma, recently tapped in a German push to earmark mRNA vaccine capacity, is getting a new owner.

European private equity firm Astorg has locked up a deal with International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG) to take over CordenPharma, whose production services run the gamut from active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients to drug products, the parties said Tuesday.

CordenPharma’s star has risen in tandem with fast-growing modalities like mRNA vaccines, peptides and high-potency compounds, such as those used for cancer meds, ICIG and Astorg said in a release.

CordenPharma, which was founded in 2006, employs more than 2,600 people across 11 manufacturing facilities and a solo R&D laboratory in Europe and the U.S., ICIG and Astorg said.

The CDMO’s offerings comprise peptides, lipids and carbohydrates—including lipids for mRNA vaccines and therapeutics—highly potent ingredients for cancer meds, injectables and small molecules. The company says it offers end-to-end services from early-stage development to large-scale commercial manufacturing.

The transaction with ICIG still needs to pass regulatory muster, the companies said. The parties didn’t reveal financial terms of the deal or say when the transaction is expected to close.

Jefferies International counseled Astorg on the purchase, alongside Houlihan Lokey, Latham & Watkins, EY, Alvarez & Marsal and BCG.

ICIG was advised by William Blair, Freshfields, PwC, ERM and LEK.

In March, CordenPharma was included among a clutch of contract manufacturers and pharma majors enlisted in a 2.86 billion euro ($3.14 billion) scheme to secure vaccine production capacity in Germany for public health emergencies through 2029.

Also involved in the German strategy are mRNA specialist BioNTech, the partnership between CureVac and GlaxoSmithKline as well as CMOs Wacker, Celonic and IDT, Reuters first reported earlier this year, citing Germany’s economy ministry.

In April, CordenPharma and its partner Wacker, which “jointly cover the entire manufacturing chain for vaccines,” confirmed their role in Germany’s pandemic preparedness plan. The companies will be on standby starting in 2024, once they’ve carved out the necessary manufacturing capacity, and they’ll receive an annual standby fee through 2029.

The expectation is that the production allies will crank out mRNA vaccines for the German government if COVID-19 continues or a new pandemic emerges, the companies said last month. Should their services be needed, CordenPharma and Wacker are on deck to produce 80 million mRNA shot doses a year, with Germany retaining the option to boost that amount to 100 million doses.

For its part of the deal, CordenPharma will make standard and custom lipids for lipid nanoparticle formulation. Further, CordenPharma will be in charge of aseptic filling and packaging of the German-made mRNA vaccines.