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Novartis pushes forward in China

Swiss-headquartered Novartis increases presence in Far East through stake in vaccine manufacturer

Novartis has reached an agreement to acquire an 85 per cent stake in Chinese vaccines company, Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical Company Ltd for the equivalent of $125m in cash, as part of a strategic initiative to build a vaccines industry leader in that country. The proposed acquisition will require government and regulatory approvals in China. 

Tianyuan is a privately owned vaccine company offering a range of marketed vaccine products in China and R&D projects focused on various preventable viral and bacterial diseases. It more than doubled its net sales to approximately $25m in 2008, compared to 2006. 

"Novartis has a long-standing commitment to improving healthcare in China. Our future activities with Tianyuan are an important step in our strategy to enhance the prevention of diseases in China with high quality products," said Dr Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO of Novartis. "The leadership and associates of Tianyuan share with Novartis the same ambition of offering a broad range of vaccines that can prevent many potentially deadly diseases and greatly improve quality of life."  

As part of the collaboration, the two companies will work together to expand Tianyuan's product portfolio and R&D pipeline through targeted investments in vaccines innovation, manufacturing technologies and commercial networks. This collaboration is also expected to facilitate the introduction of Novartis vaccines into China, where Novartis currently has a limited presence with an offering of vaccines against influenza and rabies.  

"Our mission is to build the Great Wall of Health for the people. I personally look forward to working with Novartis to continue our mission by bringing more innovative vaccines to China and building Tianyuan into a true international vaccines company," said Mr Ding Xiaohang, the founder, chairman and CEO of Tianyuan, who will continue to lead the business while holding a minority stake. 

China is the world's third largest vaccines market, with annual industry sales of more than $1bn and expectations for sustained double-digit growth in the future, given the Chinese government's commitment to improving access to quality healthcare.

4th November 2009

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