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Sanpower to Buy U.S. Cancer-Drug Maker for $820 million

By Song Shiqing

(Beijing) — Sanpower Group Co. Ltd. has agreed to buy a U.S. maker of cancer vaccines for $820 million, marking the conglomerate’s largest move to date into the global industry for precision medicines.

The purchase is one of the largest-ever of an overseas drugmaker by a Chinese company. It will see Sanpower buy Dendreon, the U.S.-based cancer business of Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., Sanpower said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dendreon develops “precision medicine” drugs, which treat illnesses based on a person’s genetic makeup, medical history and lifestyle. Such drugs have become a new tool for treating cancer. The purchase will make Sanpower the owner of Dendreon’s Provenge, an immunotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

Sanpower is one of China’s largest privately owned conglomerates, with ventures in real estate, investment funds and senior-care providers. It has also acquired several foreign retail assets, including Britain’s House of Fraser department store chain.

Last year, it started to focus on the precision medicine industry, buying 20% of Singapore-listed Cordlife Group Ltd., and 76% of Cord Blood Corp. in east China’s Shandong province. Those deals are part of the company’s target to become the largest Chinese firm in umbilical-cord blood, an important component in developing precision medicines.

Sanpower plans to bring the vaccine to China and major Asian countries after the transaction’s close, which is expected in the first half of 2017, Chairman Yuan Yafei said.

Last year, China revealed its ambition to lead as a global superpower in precision medicine, announcing a 15-year, 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) initiative to rival a similar campaign from U.S. President Barack Obama.

Contact reporter Song Shiqing (shiqingsong@caixin.com)

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