Swiss pharma firm looks to strengthen its position as world’s biggest drug manufacturing subcontractor

The Swiss pharmaceutical firm Lonza has bought Capsugel, a US capsule manufacturer, in a $5.5 billion (£4.5 billion) deal.

Lonza has acquired the specialist company through the private equity firm KKR, who bought Capusgel from Pfizer for $2.4 billion in 2011. Capsugel’s expertise lies in the mass production of hard gelatin capsules – the firm made 200 billion capsules in 2015 alone.

The deal is expected to bolster the Swiss firm’s position as the largest subcontractor of drug manufacturing in the world. Lonza also provides services to the biotech, agrochemical and consumer care markets. The Capusgel buyout is part of concerted strategy to steer the firm into the healthcare sector.

As part of the agreement, around $2 billion of Capsugel’s debt will be refinanced. It is estimated Capusgel will help boost Lonza’s annual sales to $4.6 billion.