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GC strategically offloads North American unit to Grifols

(GC Pharma)
(GC Pharma)
Offshore North American business units had become a burden for GC Holdings amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has, for instance, made it difficult for the Korean pharma to bring its workforce back and forth to focus on advancing into the region.

The company’s decision to offload Green Cross BioTherapeutics for $460 million to Grifols was a timely and strategic way out, a GC official told The Korea Herald on Tuesday.

GC Holdings on Monday notified its shareholders that it intended to sell the 53.4 percent of shares it holds of GCBT to Spanish plasma-derived drug manufacturer Grifols.

GCBT was established in 2014 in Montreal, for plasma-derived medicine manufacturing and sales in the North America region.

The unit had been part of GC’s two-track approach to the US market -- with one from Korea and another from closer to the target.

Despite having completed the facility investment for GCBT in 2018, GC Holdings had been weighed down with the responsibility to supply human resources to Quebec due to the lack of biologics processing professionals there. The initial hopes were for GCBT to become independently operational from 2021, but COVID-19 clouded that prospect.

It was at this point that Grifols, one of the biggest players in the global plasma-derived drugs market, offered an attractive price to acquire GCBT, a GC official said.

Grifols will also take GCAM, which operates GC’s blood plasma donation centers across the US, as a package deal with GCBT. Since the US is one of the rare countries that allows the effective buying and selling of human blood, there are ways GC can source blood without the donation centers if so needed, a GC official said.

GC Holdings is slated to receive the proceeds from the deal on Sept. 30. This will likely be reflected in the holding company’s fourth-quarter report.

Having placed GCBT in the hands of a competent new parent, GC will now focus on its US businesses from its manufacturing plant in Ochang, North Chungcheong Province. GC’s Ochang plant has recently doubled in capacity.

GC Pharma is readying to apply for its immunoglobulin product’s commercialization approval in the US in the fourth quarter of this year, and plans to launch the product there as early as in 2022.

GC Pharma is Korea’s first, and still just one of two, blood fractionation companies that makes medicines from human blood plasma. The company is currently pursuing research for COVID-19 treatment using plasma of recovered patients who have naturally formed antibodies.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com).
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