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SK in final talks for investment in US gene therapy firm

SK Group's logo at it headquarters in central Seoul. (Yonhap)
SK Group's logo at it headquarters in central Seoul. (Yonhap)
SK Inc., the holding company of South Korea's No. 3 conglomerate SK Group, said Tuesday it is in the final talks to invest in a US gene therapy company, in its latest move to expand its foothold in global biopharmaceuticals. 

SK said it plans to sign a formal deal soon with the Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM), a Philadelphia-based contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO), before the end of this year.

Details on the terms of the investment were not available.

With the investment in CBM, SK is taking "a step closer to achieving its goal of establishing a value chain of synthetic and bio pharmaceuticals in the US, Europe and Asia by 2025," Lee Dong-hoon, head of SK Inc.'s bio investment center, said in an online presentation.

When finalized, the deal will come about eight months after SK's takeover of Yposkesi, a French developer and manufacturer of gene and cell therapy products, helping SK further tighten its grip in the burgeoning bio manufacturing markets in America and Europe.

A gene and cell therapy CDMO provides development and manufacturing services for the advanced therapeutic technology. CBM is known for production of plasmid DNA -- a key raw material in the technology -- and viral vectors, which are a tool used to inject the genetic material into cells.

With the investment from SK, CBM will expand its facility, located in the famous gene and cell therapy bio cluster of Cellicon Valley, to a size stretching 65,000 square meters by 2025, according to SK.

SK Inc. has been ramping up investment in the bio business, one of the four core areas it has set eyes on as future growth drivers under a blueprint to grow into a global investment firm with 140 trillion won ($118.7 billion) in market cap by 2025. (Yonhap)

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