Celltrion founder to retire next year, directly sell key dr…

Celltrion Inc.`s Chairman Seo Jung-jin speaks at a press conference last Friday at Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, Seoul. [Photo provided by Celltrion Inc.]

Celltrion Inc.`s Chairman Seo Jung-jin speaks at a press conference last Friday at Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, Seoul. [Photo provided by Celltrion Inc.]

Seo Jung-jin, founder and chairman of South Korea’s leading biosimilar firm Celltrion Inc., will retire from management at the end of next year to leave the company in the hands of a professional chief executive to become latest in the country’s conglomerate scene to break out of the usual Korean corporate tradition of keeping management control within the family.

He made his retirement official during a press conference last Friday in which he also announced other business goals for this year that included establishing a direct sales network in Europe, forming a joint venture in China, developing new bio drug and expanding manufacturing facilities at home and abroad.

“Setting up a direct distribution network would reduce cost and raise profitability because we could save in intermediary charge of about 40 percent on average in sale of Celltrion’s drugs, said Seo.

On Monday, shares of Celltrion lost 1.82 percent and closed at 216,000 won.

Remsima SC, the subcutaneous version of its first biosimilar Remsima, is the first target for direct sales in Europe, he added. The company applied for sales approval of Remsima SC, the autoimmune disease therapeutic antibody biosimilar of infliximab, in Europe last year. The subcutaneous formulation allows patients to conveniently inject it by themselves.

The company is well known for its three major biosimilars – Remsima, a cheaper version of Remicade marketed by Janssen; Truxima of Ritusan and Herzuma of blockbuster breast cancer drug Herceptin marketed by Roche. They are currently distributed by third agents in Europe and the U.S.

Seo also said that the company has been in talks with several Chinese firms to establish a joint venture in China. The decision is expected to be made by the first half of this year with an aim to begin sales of its three biosimilar products – Remsima, Truxima and Herzuma – in China starting next year.

After done with the immediate goals, Seo said he will retire and the company will be managed by a professional CEO. He will separate ownership and management by appointing professional manager instead of handing the business over to his son who would chair the board. His first son Seo Jeong-jin in his mid-30s has been heading cosmetics arm of Celltrion from last year.

Kolon Group chairman Lee Woon-yul early this month retired from all titles at the No. 31 conglomerate to leave management up to a group of CEOs instead of family names.

Celltrion, with a market cap of more than 27 trillion won, is the third-largest stock on Korea’s benchmark Kospi after Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc.

By Kim Byung-ho and Choi Mira

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]

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