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WuXi Bio lays out €150M to take over Bayer plant in Germany, boosting pandemic supply network

Shanghai’s WuXi Biologics is ending the year how it started: with plans to take charge at a Bayer facility in Germany. The company’s latest site acquisition follows deals for three U.S. facilities this year, part of WuXi Bio’s gung-ho expansion efforts outside of China. 

WuXi Bio is stumping up €150 million ($183.3 million) to take over Bayer’s drug substance manufacturing facility in Wuppertal, Germany. The companies further plan to strike up a long-term sublease agreement and a transition service contract, Bayer and WuXi Bio said in a release. 

Pending regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close in 2021’s first half, with the facility pegged to start tackling drug substance and drug product manufacturing sometime next year, the companies said. Meanwhile, WuXi Bio expects to recruit some 300 staffers at the Wuppertal site over the next two to three years, a WuXi Bio spokesperson said over email. 

The 30,000-square-meter facility will be kitted out to include 3×1,000-liter perfusion and 6×2,000-liter fed-batch capacity, shoring up WuXi Bio’s global supply network for COVID-19 vaccines and biologics. The site is currently equipped to handle Bayer’s Kovaltry, though WuXi Bio will make modifications to bring its own disposable bioreactors into the fold, the spokesperson said. 

The Wuppertal plant will bolster WuXi Bio’s production alongside another Bayer manufacturing plant in Leverkusen, Germany, which the Shanghai-based company picked up in January through a similar pact. 

Under that deal, the WuXi-operated plant was tapped as a back-up facility for Bayer’s hemophilia A med Kovaltry, while Bayer plans to continue primary manufacturing and filling work on the drug at its substance and product facility in Berkeley, California. 

Those plants are just part of WuXi Bio’s wider global ambitions. In March, the company laid out plans for a $60 million biologics plant in Massachusetts, its first facility in the U.S. WuXi Bio kept the stateside movement going, inking a May lease agreement for a 33,000-square-foot process development lab in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. It followed those plans in early June with a ten-year lease to occupy a 66,000-square-foot clinical manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey. 

Meanwhile, Bayer in July sketched out lofty, 30-year manufacturing expansion ambitions for the Berkeley site where it cranks out Kovaltry. The upgrade would see the company add about 1 million square feet of new workspace and double its workforce in California, thanks to the addition of some 1,000 more employees, Bayer said.