GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has sold its François Hyafil Research Centre in Villebon-sur-Yvette (Essonne), France, to Oncodesign, the buyer said today.

In return, GSK agreed to pay Oncodesign €35 million ($39 million) to support the facility over 4 years. Oncodesign said it would use the money to integrate the site and its operations into its business and ensure the continued employment of the center’s 57 employees during the period.

The agreement is expected to be completed on or about December 1.

“It will allow Oncodesign to boost its drug discovery programs and experimentation businesses and to position itself as a leading player in the business of full drug discovery services, a new market for Oncodesign,” Philippe Genne, Ph.D., the company’s CEO and founder, said in a statement.

Dr. Genne added that the acquisition of the research center will expand Oncodesign’s presence in France’s Paris-Saclay regional innovation cluster—as well as accelerate the company’s partnership launched in January with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), and partnerships with Ipsen and UCB. The pharma giants are among Oncodesign’s more than 600 clients.

“In addition, it will speed up our Nanocyclix-based drug discovery internal programs through increased capabilities and productivity in both oncology and nononcology areas,” Dr. Genne added.

The research center was established in 1987, and has been based at its current site since it opened in 2010. The center was designed to support drug discovery and incubate new science within GSK by providing scientific expertise and resources that included delivery of medicinal chemistry, biology, in vivo pharmacology, and drug metabolism/pharmacokinetics capabilities with experience in many therapeutic areas.

After GSK opted to consolidate its R&D operations around two major hubs—Stevenage, U.K., and the Upper Providence site in Collegeville, PA—the pharma giant said in September 2015 it would seek a buyer for the François Hyafil Research Centre.

GSK employs more than 3500 people in France, where it has three production sites, a clinical research center, and a head office in Marly-le-Roi. Oncodesign is a drug discovery firm and oncology pharmacology service provider that employs 108 people and is based in Dijon, France.

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