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Mumbai: Serum Institute of India, the country’s largest vaccine maker and flagship of the Pune-based Poonawalla Group, has bought Bilthoven Biologicals, a bio-engineering and pharmaceuticals firm in the Netherlands, Serum said on Wednesday.

Bilthoven Biologicals was fully?acquired from the government of the Netherlands, and the purchase was Serum Institute’s first such deal overseas. The price wasn’t disclosed.

This first overseas acquisition by the Poonawalla Group will also provide the group and Serum Institute an important manufacturing base in Europe, with access to the important European and US markets.

Bilthoven Biologicals’ factory employs at least 200 people and has a capacity to make more than 20 million doses of vaccines a year for sale in Europe and developing countries.

“The Poonawalla Group, as indeed Serum, has constantly striven hard to provide the highest quality vaccines at affordable prices to the world," said Cyrus Poonawalla, group chairman. “The acquisition will significantly strengthen our position in the global vaccines market, while giving us access to the technology and production facility of injectable polio vaccine also known as Salk, which is a more logical solution available to the world for the eradication of polio."

The acquisition will also boost its presence in the paediatric vaccines segment “including DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), measles and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines where we are the global leaders today," Poonawalla added. DPT and MMR are combined vaccines given to small children.

Serum Institute has had business dealings with Bilthoven Biologicals for the past 35 years.

“The Poonawalla Group is committed to investing over €70-80 million over the next three years to augment the infrastructure and enhance the manufacturing capacity of the Bilthoven’s facilities," Adar Poonawalla, executive director, Serum Institute, said in a note. Serum Institute currently has one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing facilities in Pune, he said.

ch.unni@livemint.com

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