Japan's Ajinomoto pounces on Althea Tech in $175M buyout deal

Prowling the world's markets for new buyouts, Japan's Ajinomoto has pounced on San Diego-based Althea Technologies, striking a deal to buy the biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing outfit for about $175 million.

"In combining Ajinomoto's experience in biotechnology, together with Althea's sophisticated technology … we aspire to expand our business for biopharmaceuticals manufacturing in the U.S. market and strengthen our advanced biomedical businesses," Ajinomoto CEO Masatoshi Ito said in a statement. 

Ajinomoto is best known for making the flavoring monosodium glutamate, but also markets amino acids and other pharma products. The Wall Street Journal notes that Ajinomoto acquired the Japanese rights to P&G's osteoporosis drug Actonel for $210 million in 2009.

The deal is the latest in a string of biopharma buyouts in the U.S. in recent years. Anxious to grow in the face of a moribund economy in Japan, companies like Takeda Pharmaceutical have been scouting acquisitions in the U.S. And Ajinomoto has said that it has several billion dollars in its M&A account.

In addition to its clinical and commercial product development operations, Althea also offers "cGMP drug product filling in both vials and syringes, and production of microbial-derived recombinant proteins and plasmid DNA."

- here's the press release
- read the report from The Wall Street Journal

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