BASF completes omega-3 portfolio with Equateq buy

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Equateq's facility at Callanish - now part of BASF after an undisclosed buy-out
Equateq's facility at Callanish - now part of BASF after an undisclosed buy-out

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid

BASF has added high-potency, pharma-grade omega-3s to its range by buying Scottish firm Equateq for an undisclosed sum.

The German giant gained food-grade, fish-sourced omega-3 when it acquired fellow German ingredients supplier, Cognis, for about €3bn in 2010; Equateq gives it high-end omega-3 potential plus access to novel chromatographic separation technologies for EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

BASF also has a research partnership with Cargill to develop plant-based EPA-DHA forms.

“With the acquisition of Equateq BASF now offers a full range of omega-3 fatty acids ranging from natural fish oil to mid-range EPA / DHA concentrates, and super-high concentrates,”​ BASF’s Andres Orthofer told us this morning. 

BASF highlighted the uniqueness of the Equateq processing technology to deliver “single lipid”​ purity up to 99%.

“Bringing together Equateq and BASF allows us to combine the unique technologies of Equateq for purification and enrichment of omega-3 fatty acids with BASF’s global market reach and 75-year track record of serving the pharmaceutical industry with a high quality and reliable supply of first class generic APIs you can count on,”​ Orthofer said.

We are well positioned to serve a growing market that is increasingly diversifying into specific ratios of long chain omega-3 fatty acids for various health indications.”

He said the acquisition complemented the Cognis takeover which itself had, “brought another omega-3 concentration facility under BASF’s ownership, thus strengthening BASF’s position as a leading supplier to the global pharmaceutical, dietary supplement and food industries.

API to get on with it

Equateq CEO and founder Adam Kelliher got in touch to convey the irresistible nature of the offer, especially at a time when the company was already engaged in an expansion and capital raising programme to meet rising, “contracted demandin the pharma space”.

“The acquisition has happened very quickly – just a few months – so it has been a roller coaster ride but BASF has made it clear they will leave us to get on with things as they don’t want to upset the things we do well.”

He added: “The investment will benefit our own expansion programme that will complete this side of Christmas. When you consider the resource base BASF has, it is without parallel as the biggest chemicals company in the world. That resource base will open new markets too as BASF operate in just about every country in the world.”

Kelliher affirmed his own ongoing role as managing director in the new operation that will be known as BASF Pharma Callanish – Callanish being the town where the firm’s 47 staff are based on the Isle of Lewis.

It will be housed within BASF’s Nutrition & Health division.

To date Equateq has only publicly announced its involvement in one candidate pharmaceutical product – Amarin’s triglyceride lowering drug AMR101 (icosapent ethyl) – which finally received a US patent in March after a number of unexpected delays.

Citi Investment Research analyst John Boris said that – if approved – the drug could overtake GSK’s Lovaza and Abbott Lab’s Tricor and Trilipix and generate revenues of $1.5bn (€1.16bn) a year by 2020.

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