Catalent Pharma Solutions said today it was undertaking a major expansion of activity in China by acquiring a Chinese-based maker of nutritional softgel products, and joining with a second on a separate joint venture focused on clinical trial supplies.

Catalent said it will acquire a majority stake in Haining-based, privately-held Zhejiang Jiang Yuan Tang Biotechnology for an undisclosed price. “Catalent intends to work with regulators for future expansion into OTC and prescription softgel manufacturing in China,” the company said in a statement.

Zhejiang Jiang Yuan Tang, which has 120 employees, specializes in producing nearly 30 softgel products—including 12 imported softgel production lines—for the Chinese and broader Asia Pacific markets. Those products include Carotene Softgel, Soybean Isoflavones Softgel, fish protein softgel, and even royal jelly.

The acquired company has a GMP standardized plant of more than 5,000 square meters (53,819 square feet) and an annual production capacity of more than three billion capsules, according to its website. The plant is the 10th softgel facility in Catalent’s global network, and its expansion will bring to China production of variational multiscale (VMS) and over-the-counter formulations of softgel products that have proven successful in other markets, the companies said.

“The combination of Catalent’s unparalleled track record of Softgel innovation and commercial success, and our deep understanding of the local market, will provide extensive benefits for our customers,” Jiang Renfei, chairman & CEO of Zhejiang Jiang Yuan Tang, said in a statement.

Catalent also said it had joined with ShangPharma, a 2,000-employee company specializing in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development outsourcing, to form a joint-venture called Catalent (Shanghai) Clinical Trial Supplies Co.

The joint venture will use a new 31,000 square-foot Shanghai facility now under construction and designed to bring global standardization and quality to clinical trials in Asia. The companies said the facility would be China’s first that would provide end-to-end solutions for clinical trial supplies, including comparator sourcing, primary and secondary packaging and labeling, and storage and distribution.

Catalent said in the statement it “intends to make additional investments” in the ShangPharma and Zhejiang Jiang Yuan Tang facilities over the next several years to broaden its offerings in China.

The deals follow years of talk by Catalent about expanding its operations in emerging markets, including China, through acquisitions.

Headquartered in Somerset, NJ, Catalent employs approximately 9,000 people worldwide—including more than 1,000 scientists, at nearly 30 facilities across five continents. The company generates more than $1.7 billion in annual revenue.

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