Korean biotech firms need active M&As to build economies of scale

2022.08.04 11:57:50 | 2022.08.04 14:56:42

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More active mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are needed in the Korean biotech industry to enhance global competitiveness, industry experts and government officials advised.

“There are too many small-sized biotech companies in Korea unlike the United States where most biotech companies are listed, with an individual firm boasting about 1 trillion won ($763.4 million) worth market cap or up to 1,000 clinical trial staff,” Bridge Biotherapeutics CEO James Lee said during his keynote speech at the Bioplus-Interphex Korea (BIX) 2022. “Korean biotech companies must enhance competitiveness through aggressive M&As to compete against foreign rivals.”

The BIX 2022 is the nation’s largest biopharmaceutical exhibition. This year’s conference is the first face-to-face event after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, joined by 200 companies from 15 different countries. The three-day event kicked off on Wednesday.

Korea Investment Partners CEO Hwang Mahn-soon agreed with Lee’s view, pointing out that Korean biotech companies are passive in M&As because their owners seek to hand over their business ownership to their children.

“The Korean government needs to provide long-term tax supports to encourage M&As in the biotech industry," Hwang said, adding that the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety should focus more on support measures for biotech companies after shifting away from excessive regulations.

Jang Young-jin, the 1st Vice Minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said the government will heed the biotech industry’s demands.

“We will focus on creating measures for deregulation and tax support,” said Jang during the opening ceremony. “We will strive for digitalization in the manufacturing process and support large-scale R&D such as cell gene therapy.”

By Kim Si-gyun and Susan Lee

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