WuXi poaches an AstraZeneca exec to amp up Chinese R&D

Steve Yang, executive vice president and chief operating officer of WuXi PharmaTech

Chinese CRO WuXi PharmaTech ($WX) has convinced Steve Yang, head of Asian R&D for AstraZeneca ($AZN), to jump ship, joining the company as it looks to expand its presence in its home country and abroad.

Yang, who spearheaded an effort to develop drugs crafted specifically for the Chinese market, came to AstraZeneca after sitting at the helm of Pfizer's ($PFE) Asian R&D operation. Under his management, AstraZeneca put forth its first China-discovered drug candidate and cemented a slew of academic and industry partnerships in the country, including a deep-seated deal with WuXi.

As steward of AstraZeneca's $100 million Chinese R&D effort, Yang prioritized programs tailored to China's needs, not just ported copies of Western therapies, a philosophy that should fit right in with WuXi's identity. Rather than just providing cost arbitrage, the CRO has taken strides to partner up with foreign drugmakers to develop therapies in China, for China, inking revenue-sharing and non-traditional deals with clients to bring more R&D to its homeland.

And business is booming. Last year, WuXi's revenue grew 15.6% to $578.1 million, reflecting 12.5% growth in laboratory services and a 25.8% jump in manufacturing. The CRO's Chinese sales leapt 18.4% to $485.9 million on the year, and WuXi gets about 84% of its service revenue from local dealmaking.

Now the CRO is looking to keep that momentum going into 2014, expecting full-year sales to come in between $660 million and $670 million, good for up to 16% annual growth. WuXi also expects to spend about $85 million on capital expenditures, looking to expand its small-molecule manufacturing and invest in new labs.

- read the announcement

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