Thomson Geer advises on new initiative which could see Australia achieve vaccine self-reliance

May 14, 2021

Thomson Geer has advised a subsidiary of US private investment company Bridgewest Group, Bridgewest Australia Real Estate Pty Ltd on the purchase of Pfizer’s biologics manufacturing facility in Adelaide, Australia from Hospira Adelaide Pty Ltd (Hospira).

The Adelaide facility has the manufacturing capability, systems and staff expertise to execute regulatory grade manufacturing and testing of microbial-based products, including proteins, vaccines, and plasmids from development through to commercialization.

Upon expiration of the current leaseback arrangement with Hospira in September 2021, international biotechnology company BioCina, part of the Bridgewest Group, will assume full operational responsibility for the facility, retaining a significant proportion of the ex-Pfizer employees.

Through a joint venture arrangement with the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, BioCina plans to produce mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna in Pfizer’s former Adelaide facility.

This arrangement was framed around the successful purchase of the Pfizer facility and could potentially provide Australia with COVID vaccine self-reliance. By having the capability to mass produce vaccines and to be equipped to repurpose vaccines in the event of future coronavirus outbreaks, Australia would be able to avoid the problems associated with solely relying on overseas vaccine supply.

“We are very excited to be in a position to transition the BioCina Adelaide facility to potentially manufacture the mRNA COVID vaccine for Australia and surrounding Countries”, said Ian Wisenberg, CEO of BioCina.  “The Thomson Geer team helped to guide us through the legal and regulatory issues in the acquisition process and subsequent matters”, he continued, “We view them as a valuable partner in our future endeavors.”

Special counsel Delene Blumberg said, “It was a pleasure advising the Bridgewest Group (including BioCina) on this transaction. This acquisition of the former Pfizer facility shows great promise for the future of Australia becoming self-reliant with its COVID vaccine programme and being capable of producing sovereign vaccines”.

The Thomson Geer team was led by corporate special counsel Delene Blumberg supported by property partner Chris Kelly, employment partner Jonathon Corlett, environmental partner Craig Tidemann and tax partner George Hodson.

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