Northern Ireland news

Almac saysAthlone acquisition not Brexit-related

Almac dismissed claims that its latest acquisition was prompted by Brexit

CRAIGAVON-based pharmaceutical firm Almac has moved to quell speculation that its acquisition of a company in the Republic was prompted by Brexit.

A spokesman said its recent purchase of BioClin Laboratories in Athlone, Co Westmeath was "about global expansion and is not a Brexit-related issue".

Founded by the late Allen McClay, Almac is one of the north's most successful companies with close to 5,000 employees across the globe.

Earlier this year, the firm bought a plant in Dundalk, Co Louth, in a deal which its executives later admitted was a direct result of Brexit.

It said its customers required it to have a presence in the EU for regulatory reasons.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd claimed the purchase of the Athlone site was "deeply worrying" and further evidence of Brexit stripping the the north's economy of investment and jobs.

"Almac has proven to be very loyal to Portadown over the years but companies such as Almac operate in a global market – they need unrestricted access to the EU," he said.

An Almac spokesman said the move was not Brexit-related.

"Acquiring BioClin was attractive to Almac's sciences division because of the facilities and skilled staff the business provides in the field of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical analysis."

Almacalso said it already had an operation close to Athlone and the acquisition would enable it to "build on similar services" nearby.

In February two of the firm's senior executives told Westminster's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that some of the company's operations may move south of the border.

They said post-Brexit border checks could impact on its ability to be competitive and that potentially having to certify a product on both sides of the border was a concern.

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