After 30 years making specialized films and chemicals, UCB Group is cashing in its chips and investing the money in cutting-edge drugs. The Belgian based organization is selling UCB Surface Specialties (formerly UCB Films) for €320 million (around $387 million) and will focus on its core pharmaceutical business. Candover Partners Ltd., a UK private equity house, has backed the existing management team under a new chairman to run the film and chemical business, which will trade under the same name for the time being.
In the year to December 2003 the division generated total sales of €362 million ($438 million). Main products are biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) for label face stocks, release liners, security document products and packaging, as well as cellulose (Cellophane) food packaging films, resins and radiation cured adhesives. The two UK manufacturing plants include the film headquarters in Wigton, Cumbria, which focuses on BOPP film and R&D, and the Bridgwater plant for mainly cellulose films. There are also manufacturing centers in the USA, Australia and in Belgium, plus other commercial operations worldwide.
Founded in 1928 as Union Chemique Belge, UCB’s latest move follows a successful £1.5 billion takeover bid for Celltech, the UK’s leading biotechnology operation. It specializes in new types of drugs that alter antibodies and are used for alleviating inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. UCB has successfully developed drugs in large quantities, including products for treating allergies and epilepsy.