Croda Acquires South Korean Biotech Firm

08.02.2023 - UK specialty chemicals company Croda International has agreed to buy Solus Biotech, a South Korean company specializing in ceramide and phospholipid technologies and with emerging capabilities in natural retinol. The purchase price is about £232 million on a debt-free, cash-free basis.

“This is a strategic bullseye for Croda, consolidating our position as a global leader in supplying sustainable, natural actives for personal care across three critical technology platforms of peptides, ceramides and retinol,” said Croda CEO Steve Foots.”It significantly enhances our sustainable biotechnology capabilities and adds a North Asia manufacturing and innovation facility, providing a springboard to premium markets in Asia and beyond.”

Generating sales of about £28 million in 2022, Solus Biotech employs 95 people at its R&D center in Bundag, near Seoul, and at its production site in Iksan.

The company is a leading supplier of naturally derived powder ceramides, a high-growth global market with further potential to extend into formulated ceramides. According to Croda, the number of new personal care products containing ceramides has doubled over the last five years, principally for skin care, but increasingly for hair care formulations.

Solus also has a portfolio of naturally derived phospholipids that can be used in pharmaceutical applications and cosmetics, and is developing biotech-derived retinol, a sustainable alternative for the existing synthetic version. 

Croda said the phospholipids produced at Solus’ GMP plant will strengthen its pharma presence in Asia and enable collaborative R&D with its Avanti business. The Goole-based group bought US-based Avanti Polar Lipids in July 2020. Avanti develops and manufactures high-purity lipids, which are increasingly being used for drug delivery systems in complex therapeutic drugs and next-generation mRNA vaccines.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist