Merck KGaA completes acquisition of Exelead; company plans to invest €500M to scale up company's technology over next ten years, supporting contract development and manufacturing of mRNA products

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DARMSTADT, Germany , February 23, 2022 (press release) –

  • Continued investment in Exelead’s capabilities planned over the next ten years
  • Adds to growing global, multi-modality CDMO network of the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, following its newly formed CDMO business unit
  • Company now offers comprehensive end-to-end services across mRNA value chain

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, today announced the closing of the transaction to acquire Exelead, following regulatory clearances and the fulfillment of other customary closing conditions, for approximately USD 780 million in cash. The business combination is expected to enable the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to provide its customers with comprehensive end-to-end contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) services across the mRNA value chain. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, plans to further invest over € 500 million to scale up Exelead’s technology over the next ten years.

“With the addition of Exelead’s leading capabilities and highly experienced team, our company achieves an important milestone in becoming one of the leading CDMO players in mRNA vaccines and therapeutics, offering an integrated CDMO across the mRNA value chain from pre-clinical to commercial,” said Matthias Heinzel, Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and CEO Life Science. “mRNA holds much promise as a treatment well beyond Covid-19 and we will further invest in this technology to help realize its potential.”

Exelead, a biopharmaceutical CDMO, specializes in PEGylated products and complex injectable formulations, including Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) based drug delivery technology, which is key in mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for use in Covid-19 and many other indications. The company has experience in all development phases from pre-clinical development to commercial contract manufacturing for LNP formulations, including fill and finish. Exelead will complement the more than 20 years’ experience of the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in producing lipids as well as its mRNA manufacturing capabilities acquired through AmpTec in 2020. This integrated offering will accelerate the company’s ability to bring life-enhancing vaccines and treatments to patients faster by simplifying supply chain complexity and enhancing speed to market through its end-to-end portfolio.

Over the past two years, the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has made significant investments to advance traditional and novel modalities (mAb, ADC, HP-API, viral vector, and mRNA) through acquisitions and expansions. The acquisition of Exelead is another milestone to accelerate innovation in the Process Solutions and Life Science Services businesses of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, one of the company’s three growth engines (“Big 3”), through targeted smaller to medium-sized acquisitions with high impact.

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