August 10, 2009

Pharmaceutical Lab To Be Sold

John P. McDermott  /  Post and Courier

A North Charleston pharmaceutical maker is being spun off to a private equity firm that injects its money into medical-industry plays.

AAIPharma Inc.'s drug manufacturing operations off Leeds Avenue is being sold to Water Street Healthcare Partners as part of a $75 million deal.

The purchase also includes the rest of AAIPhamra's main Wilmington, N.C.-based business and a chemistry facility in Chapel Hill, N.C. Water Street said the sum includes money for future expansions to grow the newly acquired company.

AAIPharma is essentially an outsourcing firm for pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms in North America. It acquired the North Charleston manufacturing site in 2001 and now works with more than 300 companies, primarily by giving them an assist when developing new drugs.

"This is the unique value proposition that we intend to build on." Al Heller of Water Street.

The new company, AAIPharma Services Corp., will continue to be based in Wilmington and employ 450 workers in North Charleston and North Carolina.

The local lab fills "a unique niche in the industry in providing small- to medium-volume commercial and clinical sterile products that large, high volume suppliers will not do," said Barry Johnson, senior marketing manager for AAIPharma.

The sale of the business should not result in any immediate changes, he added. "The Charleston facility is integral to our service offering and as such, part of the deal. Therefore, I would anticipate no major changes in the near term," Johnson said. "Of course, this deal will provide the needed capital to fund improvements to all our facilities in the future."