Exclusive: API manufacturing plant up for sale in the UK

By Murielle Gonzalez | Published: 22-Feb-2019

Avlon Pharma has fallen into administration putting the former AstraZeneca 100-acre site in Avonmouth up for grabs. 270 jobs at risk

Avara Avlon Pharma, the CDMO specialist in API manufacturing, has fallen into administration in a move to rescue the business from collapse. The company is part of Avara, a global holding group specialist in pharmaceutical manufacturing, healthcare, and technical services.

Operating out of a former AstraZeneca plant in Avonmouth, a port and outer suburb of Bristol (UK), Avlon faced financial difficulties as a result of a contract with its single customer coming to an end.

The 100-acre (40.4 ha) manufacturing plant in Avonmouth was acquired by Avlon from AstraZeneca in 2016. The British pharma giant signed a two-year supply agreement with Avlon as part of the sale. AstraZeneca has been Avlon's only client ever since. Avlon hoped to generate more business from other customers but that didn’t happen.

Avlon manufactures multiple intermediates and APIs, including rosuvastatin (Crestor) and quetiapine (Seroquel) for AstraZeneca.

Administrators seek buyers

The High Court of Justice appointed David Rubin and Asher Miller of insolvency practitioners David Rubin & Partners to oversee the administration process, effective 13 February 2019.

Speaking to Cleanroom Technology, David Stephenson, Senior Manager at David Rubin & Partners, explained: "We are looking for buyers for the business as a going concern. There is a lot of interest being expressed so far; we don’t know whether that is going to be successful or not, but we are going to give it a good try."

David Rubin & Partners is working with specialist agents Pharma Venture and Lambert Smith Hampton. Stephenson told CT that at least twelve international parties have expressed interest and signed confidentiality agreements with the agents.

The administrators are keeping the business up and running. "We’ve got money to do that," said Stephenson. "We know we are okay for February and March and by then we hope to have some offers," he enthused.

CT understands that talks are ongoing with AstraZeneca that might lead to more work for Avlon, which might extend that period.

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Up for sale

All of the business and assets of Avlon are up for sale. "Our preference is to find a buyer for the business as a going concern. If that proves not to be possible, then we would have to sell the assets," said Stephenson.

According to a statement on Avlon's website, the Avonmouth site "comprises seven manufacturing facilities, plus a large-scale, cGMP laboratory. There are custom-built areas for synthesis, purification, drying, milling and storage. It also has a large cGMP warehouse with cold chain capability (2–8ºC), plus a dedicated biological wastewater treatment facility".

Avlon employs 270 staff at the Avonmouth site, which have been retained so far. "We had some finished products here that AstraZeneca was happy to purchase and the money from that agreement provide us to keep the staff employed for February and all of March," Stephenson explained.

The administrators are investigating a potential agreement with AstraZeneca to keep the business trading.

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