AstraZeneca has announced the divestment of the AstraZeneca Biotech Laboratory (ABL) in Södertälje, Sweden, to Recipharm AB of Sweden, a leading contract development and manufacturing organization. Under the terms of the agreement, Recipharm Biotech AB (a newly formed subsidiary of Recipharm) will lease the ABL from AstraZeneca for an initial period of 12 years. Recipharm Biotech AB will also purchase all associated equipment, and the majority of the existing ABL staff will transfer employment to Recipharm Biotech AB. AstraZeneca will retain a significant minority stake in the new company, in addition to entering into a supply arrangement for Phase I and Phase II material for one of its development projects. No financial terms were disclosed. The divestment of the ABL follows AstraZeneca’s recent acquisition of MedImmune through which it gained extensive biotechnology manufacturing capabilities. As a result, AstraZeneca has consolidated all biotech activities within MedImmune at their sites in the UK and the USA. According to Jan Lundberg, AstraZeneca Executive Vice President for Global Discovery Research, “This is an exciting new partnership for AstraZeneca. By divesting the facility, we are able to realize value from the assets while preserving jobs for the vast majority of the skilled and experienced workers. In turn, Recipharm gains a state-of the-art laboratory, which is ideally suited to their strategic needs.” This acquisition by Recipharm follows the company’s recent purchase (August 2008) of lyphilisation facilities from Inotech Labor AG, located in Basel, Switzerland. Together, these allow Recipharm to offer a one-stop-bio-manufacturing shop, taking customers projects from cell-line development based on their gene of interest, right through to their finished products for pre-clinical and early clinical studies. Thomas Eldered, CEO and managing director, Recipharm commented, “We are very pleased to have acquired these state-of-the art, biopharmaceutical development and GMP production facilities from AstraZeneca. This acquisition considerably expands our service offering as we can now provide contract drug development and production services for both small and large molecular drugs, strengthening our overall position in the outsourcing market for biopharmaceuticals. Mr Eldered added, “Acquiring this specialist biomanufacturing facility represents a further step towards achieving our goal of becoming one of the top three contract pharmaceuticals development and manufacturing organisations in the world. The handover date for the facility is set for 1 January 2009.