(News Bulletin 247) – The acquisition of French Polyplus will enable the supplier to the pharmaceutical industry to position itself in the booming market of cell and gene therapies. But for the stock market, this redemption of around 2.4 billion euros is considered too expensive.

On this last day of March, Sartorius Stedim Biotech announces a major external growth operation. The French supplier to the global biopharmaceutical industry (majority owned by the German group Sartorius AG) announced on Friday morning the signing of a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Polyplus, which specializes in cell and gene therapies, a field in full expansion.

Founded in 2001 and based in Strasbourg, Polyplus has 270 employees and has sites in France, Belgium, the United States and China. It develops and produces DNA/RNA transfection reagents, as well as high-quality, GMP-compliant plasmid DNA. They are key components in the production of viral vectors used in cell and gene therapies and other modern therapeutic products

The company has developed its field of expertise beyond transfection reagents through the acquisition of neighboring technologies such as the design and manufacture of plasmids and proteins, thus expanding its portfolio of upstream solutions for gene therapies and genetically modified cell therapies.

Polyplus, which is recording “high growth rates”, should generate in 2023 a turnover in the high range of tens of millions of euros and a “very significant” gross operating surplus (Ebitda) margin.

Too expensive?

Adding a string to his bow, however, has a price. Sartorius Stedim agreed to pay a total of nearly 2.4 billion euros to private investors, including Archimed – which had been a shareholder in Polypus for 7 years – and WP GG Holdings BV, a subsidiary of Warburg Pincus. The proposed transaction is subject to customary conditions including regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

“Polyplus’ innovative solutions are highly complementary to our portfolio, in particular our offering of cell culture media and critical components for the development and manufacturing of advanced therapies, and there are also strong synergies with our portfolio of solutions in downstream for gene therapy manufacturing,” said René Fáber, Board Member and Head of Sartorius’ Bioprocess Solutions Division.

“As a leading supplier of components essential to the production of cell and gene therapies, the duo Sartorius Stedium Biotech and Polyplus will be extremely well positioned to play a major role in this dynamic field”, he continues.

If this operation strengthens the product portfolio of Sartorius Stedim in the specialties of cell culture and advanced therapies, for the market on the other hand, the group had eyes bigger than its stomach. The supplier of key technologies for the design of drugs and vaccines shows the largest drop in the Parisian market after the announcement of this major operation. The action fell 6.55% around 10:20 a.m. to 288.40 euros, for a capitalization of 27 billion euros.