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GSK joint venture for flu vaccine

A joint venture aimed at developing flu vaccines in China has been announced by GlaxoSmithKline

GSK will combine forces with Shenzhen Neptunus, taking a 40 per cent stake for £21m initially, with the prospect of increasing to majority control within two years.

The deal is another example of GSK pushing into emerging markets and enables it to enter the potentially large Chinese market for vaccines, where the Chinese preference has been to purchase vaccines from domestic manufacturers.

It will give the company access to Chinese antigens for flu, and allow them to add GSK's own "adjuvant" to increase the efficacy and efficiency of the vaccine.

This is the first time GSK has created a joint venture in vaccines, and the company is likely to make similar moves in other emerging markets in the future.

GSK is expected to provide about £18m in cash towards the joint venture in the first stage, the remaining £3m being supplied in the form of equipment. It will produce vaccines for China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The deal is expected to complete during the fourth quarter this year.

In a separate event, GSK chief executive, Andrew Witty, attended the opening of the company's £365m factory in Singapore this week, which will produce its pneumococcal vaccine. Singapore prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said the city-state was proud to be part of the venture, which could save three million lives per year. The plant could employ up to 1,100 workers, setting up production processes and quality controls. Commercial production is expected to start in 2011.

10th June 2009

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