S. Korea seeks to attract US$500 mln in investment from two European bio firms

SEOUL-- South Korea's Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang met with top executives of Germany's Merck Life Science and Switzerland-based Novartis on Thursday in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss their potential investment in South Korea worth US$500 million combined, his office said.

The meetings took place on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), as Lee accompanied President Yoon Suk Yeol on a visit to the city, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

During the meeting with Lee, Merck Life Science CEO Matthias Heinzel said his company is reviewing South Korea as a major candidate site for a new bio materials production factory.

Merck currently has a life science operation center and a lab collaboration center in Songdo, 36 kilometers southwest of Seoul.

Lee welcomed the progress in their discussions on potential investment and ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, and explained the South Korean government's various incentives for investment and plans for deregulation, according to the ministry.

The minister held a separate meeting with Marie-France Tschudin, president of Novartis' Innovative Medicines International and the chief commercial officer of Novartis.

The minister held a separate meeting with Marie-France Tschudin, president of Novartis' innovative medicines international business and chief commercial officer, to explore ways to work together.

Tschudin called for cooperation with the South Korean government on biotechnology and innovative medicines, and Lee said the two sides will jointly be able to help advance the global bio and health industry, and create opportunities for new businesses and economic growth.

The meetings came after South Korea drew $300 million of investment from Vestas, a Danish wind turbine manufacturer, as it announced a plan to build a major manufacturing facility. The ceremony to mark the investment took place in Davos a day earlier.

"The government will continue consultations with the companies for their smooth implementation of the investment plans, and work more proactively to attract high-quality investment in cutting-edge technologies, supply chains and other advanced fields," the ministry said in a release.

Source: Yonhap News Agency