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Mergers & Acquisitions

Snapdragon rebounds with a deal to be acquired by Cambrex

Agreement comes weeks after the US Treasury halted a sale to China’s Asymchem

by Rick Mullin
November 22, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 42

Technicians at work on process equipment in a chemical laboratory.
Credit: Snapdragon Chemistry
Kevin Nagy, senior director of engineering (left), and Heman Asher, principal engineer, at Snapdragon's new process development laboratory

Two months after US Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) derailed the acquisition of Snapdragon Chemistry, a flow chemistry specialist, by the Chinese pharmaceutical services firm Asymchem, Snapdragon has a new buyer.

Cambrex, a leading US pharmaceutical services firm, says it has agreed to acquire Massachusetts-based Snapdragon for an undisclosed sum. Cambrex specializes in the contract manufacture of small-molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and operates several plants in the US and Europe.

Snapdragon will complement Cambrex’s own continuous flow chemistry team, based in High Point, North Carolina, says Brandon Fincher, chief strategy officer at Cambrex. “It’s a technology and technique that has come in handy on a few projects with important customers of ours, and it is a part of the market growing faster than batch processing,” he says. Cambrex views Snapdragon as an ideal strategic fit, Fincher says: “best in class” at flow process development and “ideally positioned right outside of Boston.”

Snapdragon CEO Matthew Bio says his firm will continue to operate with current staff and leadership. “It is still evolving, but their intent is to maintain the brand and maintain our group intact,” Bio says of Cambrex. Snapdragon has 74 employees, including 31 PhD scientists. It recently commissioned a 4,700 m2 research and manufacturing facility in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Bio says Snapdragon received a flurry of acquisition offers following the news that the deal with Asymchem, valued at $72.5 million, would not proceed. “Working with our banker, we evaluated a number of those in short order and really felt that the fit with Cambrex was very good, both for what we wanted to do and what their corporate goals were,” he says.

Snapdragon and Cambrex worked together previously at the High Point facility, Bio says. “We transferred a process there for a client a few years ago and put in one of our skids,” he says, referring to a process manufacturing unit.

Bio says Snapdragon will achieve the same goal with Cambrex as it wanted to achieve with Asymchem. “We were hoping to connect with a company that has later-stage manufacturing capabilities and was drug substance-focused,” Bio says. “And that’s exactly what Cambrex brought.”

Industry consultant James Bruno hails the acquisition as “a good move for both sides.” It gives Snapdragon the opportunity to expand its process development work beyond flow chemistry and Cambrex the ability to advance its core drug production services, he says.

This deal will also be reviewed by CFIUS because Cambrex was acquired in 2019 by the UK-based private equity firm Permira. Asymchem, meanwhile is working to establish an R&D center in Woburn, Massachusetts, that will primarily perform process development work for projects that will be transferred to its manufacturing sites in China. The center is set to open early next year.


This story was updated on Nov. 22, 2022, to correctly spell a name in the photo caption. The principal engineer is Heman Asher, not Herman Asher.



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