Gilead plots broader expansion at Foster City hometown

Foster City, CA
The Foster City campus could host up to 5,000 new employees, with many coming into newly expanded lab space

Armed with tens of billions of dollars from the overnight success of its two new hep C pills, Gilead ($GILD) is looking to expand its reach into its 71-acre corporate campus in its native city with new labs also being proffered.

The Foster City, CA-headquartered company is planning to knock down an existing single-story building and construct a six-story lab and office building, according to a city Planning Commission as quoted by The Daily Journal.

“They’ve done a really nice job with the campus and Gilead is a great partner with Foster City,” Community Development Director Curtis Banks told the newspaper. “It’s nice to see those buildings modernized and that Gilead is really committed to making Foster City their home.”

This comes after Gilead spent around $120 million to purchase the nearby 12-acre Chess-Hatch office complex, which could eventually be redeveloped into nearly 800,000 square feet of building space. The company has yet to submit plans to redevelop the site.

Gilead has nearly 7,500 employees across the world but said that the Foster City campus could “host up to 5,000 new employees”.

The company's fortunes were built around its blockbuster suite of HIV drugs, but the approval of its Harvoni and Sovaldi for hepatitis C--which have revolutionized the way hep C is cured--has added much more to the bottom line. Its full year 2015 sales were $32.6 billion--up from $24.9 billion in 2014, with a current market cap of $130.8 billion.

Analyst have been asking the company who it will buy with its cash piles--it did just last week snatch up an early-stage NASH from the MA-based biotech Nimbus Therapeutics for $1.2 billion, but is yet to confirm any major M&A deals, currently content with internal expansion rather than a major external add-on.

 “The Bay Area has long served as a center of excellence for the biopharmaceutical industry, and we remain committed to maintaining our presence in Foster City,” a Gilead spokeswoman told the DJ.

“As Gilead’s business continues to grow, we are always evaluating needs to expand the Foster City campus with regard to both laboratory and office space to assist in our mission of delivering life-saving medicines to patients worldwide.”

Gilead’s not the only life science firm looking to gain deeper inroads into the Bay Area as BioMed Realty Trust and California’s gene-sequencing company Illumina ($ILMN) have also received city approvals to proceed with a $149 million biotech campus on a more than 20-acre site.

- check out the Daily Journal’s take