Samsung's drug-manufacturing unit plans to go public

South Korea's Samsung announced Thursday a plan to list shares of its drug-manufacturing unit on Seoul's stock market as it eyes the bio-medical business as a new engine for growth.

Samsung Biologics' board members agreed Thursday to list the firm's shares on Seoul's main Kospi bourse by the end of this year in a step to fund more investment, the firm said in a statement.

The firm produces biopharmaceutical drugs for major companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche at plants west of Seoul as a manufacturing contractor.

The firm was created in 2011 after Samsung Group announced a plan to invest 23 trillion won ($20 billion) in healthcare and green energy over the next decade.

It is jointly owned by several Samsung units, with Samsung Electronics, the group's flagship unit and the world's top smartphone maker, holding a nearly 50-percent stake.

The global radiopharmaceutical industry is expected to grow to almost $278 billion by 2020 due to the world's increasingly ageing population, the company said.

Its third plant, scheduled for completion in 2018, is expected to make the company the world's top contract drug manufacturer in terms of production capacity, it added.

Samsung—South Korea's largest business group—has been seeking new growth engines as global demand slows in its core mobile phone business.

It announced in 2010 five new engines for growth—electric vehicle batteries, light-emitting diodes, biomedicine, medical equipment and solar batteries.

Biologics, unlike chemically synthesised drugs, are made up of organic, live substances such as plant or animal cells and are more complex to research and manufacture.

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© 2016 AFP

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