Buzz: Lonza in talks to buy control of Indian R&D ops

Switzerland's Lonza is reportedly in talks to acquire control of Aptuit Laurus, a large drug R&D/manufacturing operation with 600 employees in India.

The Business Standard reports that Lonza is interested in buying a majority interest of the stake held by Aptuit in the U.S., which teamed up with Laurus Labs to create the joint venture back in 2007. Aptuit committed to a $100 million investment in the operation, the Indian newspaper writes, but the deal quickly soured after a change in management. Aptuit Laurus operates on a 34-acre campus in Visakhapatnam and has a "large scale" R&D complex in Hyderabad. A third facility handles its clinical trial supply operations.

The newspaper reports that the deal is valued at $77 million to $99 million.

On Thursday evening, though, Aptuit sent the following statement to FierceBiotech denying that any sale is underway:

"In response to recent erroneous media reports, we wish to reiterate our long-term commitment to the relationship with Aptuit Laurus that we established several years ago, as well as our overall commitment to the Indian market. These reports are based on rumors and there are no current discussions about a sale of these assets. Aptuit remains committed to a globally integrated model and the Indian market is a key piece of our offering for clients." 

India has been working hard to burnish its international reputation for drug development and manufacturing, offering a low-cost environment and large ranks of skilled researchers. But it's been losing ground to China, where regulators have won a reputation for quickly paving the way for new enterprises fostered by the world's largest drug companies.

- here's the story from the Business Standard