- Biogen will sell its large biologics manufacturing plant in Hillerød, Denmark, to the Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm in a deal worth as much as $890 million in cash, slimming down as it continues construction of a modern facility near Solothurn, Switzerland.
- After acquiring the Hillerød site, Fujifilm will become a supplier for Biogen, manufacturing the biotech's multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri along with other products included in service agreements announced Tuesday in conjunction with the plant sale.
- Fujifilm, which owns a contract development and manufacturing organization called Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, said it would retain the roughly 800 staff currently employed at the Hillerød plant.
Like many of its peers, Biogen is exploring gene therapy, most recently announcing an $800 million deal to acquire Nightstar Therapeutics.
Biologics, though, remain a large part of Biogen's business. The biotech is in the midst of revamping manufacturing capabilities through construction of a biologics facility that it has touted as among the world's most advanced.
Construction of that site, located in Luterbach, Switzerland, has taken longer than Biogen first expected, but the drugmaker expects the $1 billion plant to be operational by the end of 2020. With that on the horizon, Hillerød appears to have fallen out of Biogen's plans.
"As we continue to diversify our portfolio across multiple modalities and bring online our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Solothurn, Switzerland, we believe that we have enhanced our manufacturing capabilities and capacity for biologics with this transaction," said Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos in a March 12 statement.
By divesting Hillerød, Biogen will outsource production of Tysabri (natalizumab) while gaining a significant amount of cash upfront. The companies structured the deal so Fujifilm will acquire all the shares of Biogen (Denmark) New Manufacturing ApS, a subsidiary of Biogen that holds the company's Hillerød operations.
Hillerød contains six 15,000-liter bioreactors equipped to manufacture cell culture-derived biologics. It will be the fourth biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing site operated by Fujifilm's CDMO subsidiary, the Japanese company said.
Biogen also produces at Hillerød bulk drug product for biosimilars developed by its partner Samsung Bioepis, which it partially owns along with Samsung BioLogics.
The companies expect the deal to close in the second half of 2019 and Biogen plans to record an after-tax loss in the first quarter of 2019 of between $130 million to $150 million related to the transaction. Almost all of that expected loss is associated with guarantees of future minimum purchase commitments, Biogen said.