Glaxo to invest US$360 million in three UK manufacturing sites

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - GlaxoSmithKline, the United Kingdom's biggest drugmaker, will invest £275 million (S$489.2 million) at manufacturing sites to boost production of respiratory and biologic medicines, mostly for export.

The investments will be spread across three UK sites: Barnard Castle and Ware in England, and Montrose in Scotland, the company said Wednesday in a statement. The money also will lead to the creation of new UK-based jobs at Glaxo.

The fresh investments are a signal of confidence in the UK following a vote last month to leave the European Union. The outcome of the Brexit referendum created uncertainty for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, with questions about how an exit from the EU would affect immigration policy, drug regulation, trade agreements and the movement of goods like raw materials.

"It is testament to our skilled UK workforce and the country's leading position in life sciences that we are making these investments in advanced manufacturing here," Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty said in the statement.

Another attraction is the UK's corporate tax system, which provides a lower rate on profits from UK-owned intellectual property.

Mr Witty, along with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, chairs an industry task force on life sciences set up by the UK government that aims to identify opportunities for the sector following the referendum.

Glaxo's manufacturing site in Barnard Castle will get a £92 million investment to fund a new sterile facility for biopharmaceutical products, the statement said. The Montrose site in Scotland, which makes active ingredients, will receive £110 million for a new facility to manufacture respiratory drug ingredients. The Ware site will get £74 million to expand inhaler manufacturing capacity.