Germany's Biotest targets UK blood plasma peer PRUK

By Frank Siebelt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German blood plasma specialist Biotest <BIOG_p.DE> said it is interested in taking over British government-owned peer Plasma Resources UK (PRUK) to secure a stronger foothold in an established market and access to more blood donors.

The British government reaffirmed in January it would sell the majority or all of its shares in PRUK, which is the Department of Health's blood plasma supplier.

PRUK's unit Bio Products Laboratory Ltd (BPL) makes plasma products from blood given by donors at 32 centres in the United States operated by DCI Biologicals Inc.

It does not draw on domestic donors due to concerns over the risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in Britain.

"We have made our interest known because we cooperate already with BPL on a daily basis," Biotest Chief Financial Officer Michael Ramroth told Reuters

"The (sales) process is indeed ongoing," Ramroth added. "We are already active with our products in Britain, where we have a market share of 15 percent. We could strengthen our business there considerably."

Plasma products are used to treat blood coagulation disorders, autoimmune diseases and immune deficiencies.

Ramroth said that since PRUK's U.S. sourcing arm can supply more precursor blood products than is needed in Britain, a takeover would also secure more supplies for other Biotest businesses.

In general, Biotest could shoulder deals worth between 300 million euros and 400 million. With equity capital worth more than 50 percent of total assets, it could take out more debt for additional funding, the CFO said.

"Europe and America remain our main target markets. We do have growth opportunities in these established markets."

The British government said in September that a sale of PRUK to the private sector was in "the best interests of the company, the taxpayer and patients", citing an independent review.

Biotest at the time said it was keen to acquire a government-owned British rival to become more regionally diversified, but declined to provide the name.

(Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Holmes)