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In flux, CDMO Abzena lays off 66 in San Diego days after hiring new CEO and reshuffling board

Abzena, a CDMO specializing in the development and manufacture of antibody-drug conjugates, has laid off 66 employees in San Diego, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) posted by the state.

Attempts to reach the U.K.-based company were unsuccessful.

The layoffs, which were effective immediately, came on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at the company’s Rehco Road site. Abzena’s other facility in San Diego is about 2.5 miles to the northeast.

The move comes amid a period of apparent transition for the company, which hired a new CEO earlier this month. Then last week, Abzena sold its new biologics drug substance facility in North Carolina to Pfizer.

Just two years ago, Abzena had grand designs for the North Carolina plant, announcing a $200 million investment in its construction. The site in Sanford was intended to meet an “increasing demand” for late-stage and commercial production of biologics.

In April of last year, Abzena revealed another $65 million in funding from its parent company, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, to bolster clinical and commercial manufacturing at new and existing sites.

Attempts to reach the New York-based private equity firm also were unsuccessful. Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe bought Abzena in 2018.

In early January, when Abzena hired new CEO Matt Stober, the company announced it also was bringing on three new board members. Stober took over for Jonathan Goldman after four years,

Connecting the dots on Abzena’s plant sale with Pfizer isn’t difficult. From 2013 to 2015, Stober was senior VP of operations at Hospira, where he helped turn the CDMO around before its sale to Pfizer in a $17 billion deal.