EureKING Poised to Shake up European CDMO Scene

16.05.2022 - EureKING, a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) steered by former European biopharma executives, launched itself on May 9 and in a subsequent listing on the Paris-based Euronext stock exchange raised €150 million to buy up small European CDMOs that make biologics, cell and gene therapies or live biotherapeutics.

Backed by investment fund Eurekare, which focuses on developing synthetic biology and microbiome innovation across the continent and is a co-founder of the SPAC, EureKING bills itself as Europe’s first special purpose fund dedicated to bio-manufacturing.

EureKING co-founder Michael Kloss, whose career stations include head of diabetes care at Bayer, heads the new company as CEO, and Gérard Le Fur, previously CEO of Germany-based Sanofi-Aventis, another co-founder, is chairman. Peter Eckenberg and Stefan Berchtold, two industry veterans with previous stints at Bayer are CFO and chief transformation and strategy officer respectively.

Other names among the company’s seven founders, all with backgrounds in healthcare and finance, are Eurekare co-founder Alexandre Mouradian, Eurekare CEO Rodolphe Besserve, Christophe Jean and Hubert Olivier.

In an initial run, EureKING plans to absorb about three European CDMOs with annual sales of around €50 million. Based on the size of the targets, the founders believe such a pool of bio-CMDOs could achieve an enterprise level of about €1 billion, lead the consolidation of the market and help to better meet the specialized needs of healthcare companies.

Longer term, the SPAC hope to build a “one-stop boutique” manufacturing network for European biotechs that don't require batches of product and are not being prioritized by the major CDMOs.

The bio-CDMO sector is seen as fragmented, with only a handful of players, including Lonza, Boehringer Ingelheim, Catalent, Wuxi Biologics and Samsung Biologics, accounting for around 27% of the market as more than 1,000 others struggle. The global market for CDMOs specializing in biopharma is estimated at $13 billion in 2020 and is predicted to reach $25 billion by 2025.

Kloss said EureKING could provide “efficient and almost immediate” logistical and industrial support to smaller companies by providing the tools they need to compete with the leading international players.

Commenting on the SPAC launch, Claire Skentelbery, director general of the European biotech industry group EuropaBio, told Reuters there is a global need to scale up manufacturing to meet the burgeoning demand for advanced therapeutics. With strong competitors in the US, India and China in Europe, “we need to make sure that we are shoulder to shoulder with the other major regions.”

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist