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Mergers & Acquisitions

Novacap to enter the U.S. by acquiring PCI Synthesis

French pharmaceutical services firm is latest to move into the U.S.

by Rick Mullin
June 22, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 26

France’s Novacap has agreed to acquire PCI Synthesis, a Newburyport, Mass.-based pharmaceutical services firm, for an undisclosed sum. The deal marks the third purchase of a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) for the Lyon-based Novacap and its first in the U.S.

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Credit: PCI
Novacap is getting this PCI plant in Massachusetts.

PCI specializes in early-stage development and manufacturing of branded and generic active pharmaceutical ingredients. Its capabilities include cryogenic manufacturing, large-scale chromatography, as well as production of nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical foods. The company also has an R&D facility in Devens, Mass. It posted sales of $32 million in 2017.

Novacap, formed by investors in 2003 with the acquisition of Rhodia’s analgesics business, moved into pharmaceutical services in 2015 with the acquisition of the German firm Chemie Uetikon. Last year Novacap acquired PCAS, a French CDMO.

With PCI, Novacap will operate 12 sites certified to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s current Good Manufacturing Practice quality standard and two main R&D centers, including a 10,000-m2 facility in Porcheville, France, that PCAS acquired from Covance in 2016.

PCI is only the latest U.S. drug services firm to be snapped up by a larger overseas acquirer. Other examples include Ash Stevens, J-Star Research, Kalexsyn, and Ricerca Biosciences.

Stuart Levy, president of SGL Chemistry Consulting, notes that the deal makes sense for Novacap. “Companies in Asia and Europe are scouring the U.S. for capacity in analytical, manufacturing, and R&D services to be more strategically located to biotech hubs,” he says. “Having an outpost in the Boston area able to do early- to midstage manufacturing for transfer to larger-capacity plants in Europe is huge for the organization.”

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