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By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Biologics, a biopharmaceutical unit of South Korea's largest conglomerate Samsung Group, said Tuesday that it will build a fourth plant in the country in response to rising manufacturing demand.
The 1.7 trillion-won (US$1.4 billion) plant in Songdo, western Incheon, will have a bioreactor capacity of 256,000 liters, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Samsung Biologics said the planned factory, the largest of the four, is aimed at maximizing its operational efficiency and manufacturing capabilities, following major deals.
"There will be no problem in securing investment cash, as the company's recent credit rating is high and the debt ratio is low," CEO Kim Tae-han said in an online press conference.
The total size of the investment is expected to be over 2 trillion won, more than the total amount invested in the company's previous three plants combined.
Construction will take off later this year, with the plant comprising 23.8 million square meters in total floor area -- equivalent to the combined floor area of its existing three plants -- company officials said.
With the fourth plant's completion, Samsung Biologics will secure a combined bioreactor capacity of 620,000 liters, making it the largest contract manufacturing organization (CMO) facility at a single location in the world.
Kim said Samsung Biologics will be able to have market share of more than 30 percent in the global bio CMO market.
The company said it will hire some 6,400 people to build the fourth plant, set for completion in August 2023, with an additional 1,800 employees for pipelines.
The company has inked a combined 1.8 trillion won worth of deals to manufacture products for major global pharmaceutical giants during the first half of this year.
Among the lineup is a tie-up deal with multinational drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK) to manufacture a GSK biosimilar product.
Under the CMO agreement, Samsung Biologics will commercially produce GSK's lupus treatment, Benlysta, starting in 2022. The eight-year contract is valued at more than $231 million.
Shares of Samsung Biologics closed at 804,000 won on the Seoul bourse on Tuesday, up 4.28 percent from a day earlier. The plan was announced before the market opened.
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