South Korea’s Samsung is perhaps best known for its TV’s, mobile phones and computer chips, which makes its move into the realm of biopharamceuticals seem a little strange on the surface, especially at a time when the existing pharma companies are making a land grab in that direction (Pfizer’s $68bn purchase of Wyeth and Sanofi Aventis’s $20bn buy of Genzyme to name but a few).
The synergies (yes I used to hate that word) to be found between LCD TVs, mobile phones and prescription drugs are few and far between – so other than money, what could Samsung be bringing to the table when starting up a joint venture with contract research and manufacturing organisation Quintiles?
Samsung started as a small trading company in 1938 and what most of the west probably doesn’t realise is that Samsung isn’t just an electronics company – its a conglomerate that could challenge GE in terms of the breadth of its offering! The group is comprised of far more than just its Samsung Electronics company: Samsung Heavy Industries is the world’s second largest shipbuilder and its Life Insurance and Engineering arms are also big players in their respective industries. Perhaps more of an outlier than the new biopharmaceutical effort is its Everland theme park which is the fifth most popular theme park in the world!
The company has seen massive growth due to its ability to exert strict financial management and quality controls on its subsidiaries such that the firm now accounts for 20% of South Korea’s export. No doubt this control will aid it in its move into the unfamiliar world of protein and antibody engineering.