AstraZeneca says it has completed its restructuring efforts in Germany culminating in the sale of its manufacturing facility in Plankstadt.

The site is being sold to Frankfurt-based International Chemical Investors Group for an undisclosed sum and the new owner has agreed to keep on at least 290 of currently 360 jobs. AstraZeneca in turn has guaranteed a specified volume for the plant until 2009.

AstraZeneca spokesman Matthias Mezzele told PharmaTimes World News that ownership of the site will be transferred at the latest by February 1 next year, leaving the company with one other facility in Germany, its packaging plant in Wedel, near Hamburg. Norbert Marquardt, the senior executive responsible for Plankstadt, added that “we are pleased that we were able to avert a site closure” and said that it now has “the chance of a long-term future. ICIG is an ideal partner in every respect”.

ICIG is a privately-held investment company which focuses on mid-sized chemicals businesses. Since being set up in 2004, it has acquired 13 such operations which have sales of about 500 million euros and the group operates 17 manufacturing plants, ten of which are in Germany. Managing director Achim Riemann said “we have many years of experience with acquisitions of production sites from manufacturing networks and have proven that we implement this business model with commercial success”.

Plankstadt has been an important manufacturing facility for the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker but it announced plans for a sale or closure of the plant in April as part of a plan to eliminate 3,000 positions on a global basis over the next three years in an effort to improve productivity.

The firm’s restructuring efforts there are now complete and Mark Fladrich, managing director of AstraZeneca Deutschland said that “we are one of the first pharmaceutical companies in Germany to have responded so decisively to the challenges of the current business environment in this country“. As part of the restructuring, the number of sales and marketing positions have been reduced by approximately 500.

Mr Fladrich added that “we implemented these measures in a socially responsible manner” and managed to reduce redundancies by two-thirds to 150 “despite the high reduction of positions “. Those employees leaving the company had been offered “an extensive voluntary social package and employment in a voluntary transfer company”, AstraZeneca concluded.