$7.4 billion Japanese corporation invests in Madison pharmaceutical company

Tosoh Bioscience has option to acquire Semba Biosciences

Tosoh Bioscience LLC has made an equity investment in Madison pharmaceutical company Semba Biosciences Inc., and has an option to acquire full ownership of the company.

The multimillion-dollar transaction is expected to close Dec. 1 for an undisclosed price. Tosoh Bioscience is a King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of $7.4 billion Japanese conglomerate Tosoh Corp., which has more than 12,000 employees at its more than 100 companies globally. Tosoh Bioscience supplies liquid chromatography products to laboratories and manufacturing plants.

Semba is a life science company that supplies researchers with instruments, reagents and methods for efficient, scalable purification of biomolecules and chemicals.

Madison-based venture capital management firm Kegonsa Capital Partners is the majority owner of Semba Biosciences, and Tosoh Bioscience now holds the second-largest ownership stake, said Ken Johnson, managing director at Kegonsa.

“It’s a big deal for Wisconsin to bring that big of a player into our community,” Johnson said.

Kegonsa helped establish Semba in 2005, when the inventor approached the firm with the idea, but was not interested in creating a company around it, Johnson said. Kegonsa hopes to make an ownership exit with Tosoh’s intention to acquire Semba.

Tosoh is particularly interested in tracking the development of a Semba product that allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to separate a particular protein to create protein-based drugs, which are growing in popularity. The additional resources and capital provided by a company of Tosoh’s size will allow Semba to compete against major players in the pharmaceutical space, he said.

“Semba was looking for a marketplace with a great product – we think it’s the best – and all the competitors were billion-dollar companies,” Johnson said.

“Teaming up with Tosoh Bioscience helps us to advance and expand our research, development and sales of Semba proprietary manufacturing processes of protein drug products,” said Dr. Robert Mierendorf, president of Semba.

“Combining Semba Biosciences’ advanced continuous chromatography bio separation technology with Tosoh Bioscience’s best-in-class chromatography resins, creates enormous value for our customers by providing the highest productivity and efficiency in biopurification,” said Ali Soleymannezhad, director of sales and marketing at Tosoh Bioscience.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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