New Aker JV to acquire EPAX in €70 million deal

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Aker biomarine, Epax, Pharmaceutical drug

In a reverse of what we see in nature - krill gobbling up fish - Trygg Pharma has entered into an agreement to purchase Epax Holding AS from Austevoll Seafood.

Newly formed Trygg Pharma – a joint venture between krill player Aker BioMarine and New York-based private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg – has agreed to pay NOK 561 million (€71.2 million) for the Epax shares. Trygg will also assume the net interest bearing debt of Epax, which was NOK 314 million (€39.8 million) as of 31 December 2009.

The transaction – subject to the customary closing conditions – is expected to close in the final quarter of 2010, said the companies.

“Epax truly represents the finest of Norway’s fish oil manufacturing traditions,”​ said Aaron Kramer, former president of pharmaceuticals and omega-3 concentrates at Aker BioMarine and the new CEO of Trygg Pharma.

“The people at Epax have done a tremendous job in developing the company under dedicated Austevoll ownership, and we are excited to couple our team at Hovdebygda with the exceptional experience and competence in Epax to make further progress in the field of omega-3,”​ said Kramer.

“We believe that the omega-3 supplement market will continue to have strong global market growth and Epax is very well positioned in the premium quality segment,”​ he added.

Frederik Nygaard, CFO of Aker BioMarine, told NutraIngredients that Aker BioMarine and Trygg would be developed independently, “but there will be an agreement regarding krill pharmaceuticals”​. He added that this would not affect the dietary supplements.

Epax capacity expansion

The new owners have announced that Epax, which employs 74 people, will immediately invest significantly in expanding the capacity of the factory in Ålesund, Norway.

Trygg Pharma stated that its proprietary technology will be deployed to enable manufacturing of the next generation of omega-3 concentrates.

Bjørn Refsum will continue as managing director of Epax and also takes on the position of executive vice president of manufacturing of Trygg Pharma.

“Epax is fortunate to get an owner that will invest significantly in people, products, processes, and technology in Ålesund,”​ said Refsum. “I am impressed with the technology and people at Trygg Pharma, and I am certain that we are stronger together than by ourselves. The planned capacity expansion means that our customers can rest assured that Epax will be able to grow with them in the future.”

Trygg Pharma

The new joint venture will be granted the exclusive right to develop krill-derived active pharmaceutical ingredients based on Aker BioMarine’s intellectual property platform, said the companies. According to the terms of the venture, Aker will receive a royalty of net in-market sales on all future products developed under the license. Trygg will also be obliged to source its krill raw materials from Aker.

Dr Egil Bodd has been appointed Chairman of Trygg Pharma, having previously spent 10 years with pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.

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