Wacker buys Genopsis in multi-million-dollar deal

Leading German chemical firm Wacker has acquired pharmaceutical manufacturer Genopis. Wacker, which has a manufacturing hub in Amsterdam, purchased the US-based Genopsis from South Korea-based firms Helixmith and Medivate Partners in a deal worth an initial $39 million. That figure could rise due to possible further performance-based payments under a so-called earn-out model. The transaction is expected to be finalised in the next few weeks.

The new deal will see Wacker continue to serve Genopis' existing customers for plasmid DNA (pDNA), which can be used to create nucleic acid-based gene therapies. These are often used to treat diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, diabetes and AIDS. pDNA can also be used to create vaccines or as a starting point for innovative therapeutic agents such as messenger RNA (mRNA), which teaches cells how to make a protein - or a piece of a protein - to trigger an immune response and protect against infectious diseases. mRNA has most recently been used in Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Wacker’s investment in the Amsterdam Area

The news comes after Wacker invested around €50m in its production facility in the Amsterdam Area, which is used to manufacture biologics, LMPs (live microbial products) and vaccines. This state-of-the-art plant is now capable of producing large volumes of pDNA and mRNA-based vaccines. Wacker purchased the facility, located in the Zuidoost (South East) area of the city, in 2018 from SynCo Bio Luxembourg.

Wacker production site in Amsterdam

Wacker's Amsterdam manufacturing facility

Speaking after the latest deal was announced, Susanne Leonhartsberger, president of Wacker’s biosolutions division, said: “For several decades now, Wacker Biotech has manufactured therapeutic proteins, live microbial products and vaccines for clinical development and commercial supply at its sites in Jena, Halle and Amsterdam. We are experts in microbial technologies. In recent months, we’ve invested in our Amsterdam site and made preparations to expand our production capabilities to include mRNA.”

Amsterdam’s thriving life sciences and health sector

Wacker’s presence in the Amsterdam Area is just one example of its strength as a thriving and connected hub for the life sciences and health industry. It has internationally-renowned universities, academic hospitals and research institutions, and is home to the European Medicines Agency. The industry thrives on cooperation and the proximity of businesses and academic institutions, which creates a unique synergy few other locations can offer.

The region is also prepared to cope with the challenges of logistics in the life sciences and health industry. For instance, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has a specialised pharma zone and the Port of Amsterdam has biomass transhipment facilities.

Read more business news from around Amsterdam.