Cash-rich BioNTech broadens scope as COVID shot sales slide


By Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss

FRANKFURT, May 8 (Reuters) - Germany's BioNTech 22UAy.DE, Pfizer's PFE.N partner on COVID-19 vaccines, said on Monday its first-quarter net income plunged on lower demand for the shots as it widens its work on cancer and other diseases.

BioNTech, which reported it had built up an 18.6 billion euro ($20.55 billion) balance of cash and receivables at the end of March, has pursued a string of takeovers and alliance deals to broaden its work on cancer treatments.

The company, which is also working on other vaccines against infections such as tuberculosis and shingles, said its quarterly net profit dropped to 502 million euros, down from 3.7 billion euros a year earlier, as COVID-19 vaccine demand plunged.

Last week, the World Health Organization ended the global emergency status for COVID-19, saying the virus that has killed more than 6.9 million people should now be managed along with other infectious diseases.

BioNTech reaffirmed its outlook for revenues from the shot to reach about 5 billion euros in 2023, down from 17.2 billion euros last year.

It also repeated that its research and development (R&D) budget would be between 2.4 and 2.6 billion euros this year, up from 1.54 billion euros last year, as it hires scientists and initiates more expensive late-stage trials.

And it reiterated that it remained in talks with the European Union about deferred or reduced COVID-19 vaccine deliveries as it re-negotiates a bulk purchase contract.

The company declined comment on the state of discussions on the price to be paid per shot.

($1 = 0.9052 euros)

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss, Editing by Rachel More, Miranda Murray and Alexander Smith)

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