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A screen grab of Serum Institute website
A screen grab of Serum Institute website

Serum Institute halts stake sale talks with funds

Serum was in discussions to sell an up to 10% stake in the company about two months ago, seeking a valuation of up to $12 billion

Mumbai: Asia’s largest vaccine maker, Serum Institute of India Ltd, has halted plans to sell a minority stake in the company, as global market volatility has dented the appetite of private equity and sovereign wealth funds for big-ticket investments, its CEO said.

Serum, owned by the billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla, was in discussions to sell an up to 10% stake in the company about two months ago, seeking a valuation of up to $12 billion, Adar Poonawalla told Reuters on Tuesday.

“They indicated it would be difficult for them to dish that much out right now," he said, referring to private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds that the unlisted company was in talks with for the stake sale.

“Naturally, we weren’t going to accept a lower valuation just because there is a liquidity crunch going on."

Poonawalla said Serum would hold off all discussions “until the markets stabilise," and is willing to wait for a few months to a year before reconsidering those plans. He said there was no urgent need for the company to raise funds.

Serum, the world’s fifth-largest vaccines maker by volume which plans to file for fast-track approval to launch a dengue treatment in India, is also not considering listing its shares on public exchanges, Poonawalla said.

“We don’t want to go to the public domain and be accountable to other shareholders and base our decisions on what the market would expect us to do," he said. “We want to keep our independence on making our decisions." Reuters

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