Lonza plans to sell specialty ingredients unit, H1 profit rises

Credit: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN

Lonza will begin selling its specialty ingredients unit in the second half of 2020, the Swiss drug contract manufacturer said, as it focuses on its drugs business that is making Moderna's prospective vaccine for the COVID-19.

By John Miller

ZURICH, July 24 (Reuters) - Lonza LONN.S will begin selling its specialty ingredients unit in the second half of 2020, the Swiss drug contract manufacturer said, as it focuses on its drugs business that is making Moderna's prospective vaccine for the COVID-19.

First-half profit rose 22% to 478 million Swiss francs ($517 million) on rising demand from biotech customers, Lonza said on Friday. Sales rose 3.3% to 3.1 billion francs, matching the consensus from analyst estimates collected by the company.

Lonza has been carving out its specialty ingredients business into a separate unit since last year and the board decided on Thursday to unload it in a sale process, Chairman Albert Baehny said in a statement.

"Once the sale is completed, Lonza will become a pure-play pharma and biotech company," Baehny said in a letter to shareholders. "The sale will provide an opportunity to focus our attention and resources."

Baehny added that the technology transfer with Moderna on their mRNA vaccine project is complete, with the first small-scale batch expected to be delivered to its Portsmouth, New Hampshire, facility before month's end.

Lonza aims to finish a commercial production line in New Hampshire for Moderna's prospective vaccine a month earlier than its original December 2020 target, Lonza told Reuters in June.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by John Revill and Stephen Coates)

((J.Miller@thomsonreuters.com; +41 58 306 7734; Reuters Messaging: j.miller.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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