Novo Nordisk-owner to expand in India this year

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 10:39 AM

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Novo Holdings, the controlling shareholder of Danish obesity drugmaker Novo Nordisk, plans to open an office in India this year to tap innovation and a growing healthcare market, its CEO Kasim Kutay said on Tuesday.

The firm, whose assets under management rose to 149 billion euros ($163 billion) at the end of 2023 from 108 billion a year earlier, manages a portfolio of 170 companies across life sciences and capital investments in equities, fixed-income assets, and real estate.

It has seen a surge in revenue from Novo Nordisk, the maker of blockbuster obesity drug Wegovy and diabetes treatment Ozempic.

Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, owning 28% of the drugmaker’s equity and 77% of the voting shares, established offices in Singapore in 2021 and in Shanghai in 2022, and plans to open one in Mumbai this year.

“That obviously speaks to the ambitions that we have in that region,” Kutay told Reuters in an interview, adding that the company will invest between $300 million and $500 million in Asia each year in the coming five years.

The company has already invested in Indian private hospital chain Manipal Hospitals and in Qure.ai, which specialises in reading and interpreting medical images such as X-rays, CTs and ultrasounds.

Novo Holdings has also invested in four China-based companies and three in Southeast Asia.

“You’ve got huge populations, growing middle classes that want more healthcare, governments that are focusing on greater provision of healthcare, and they’re increasingly a source of innovation,” Kutay said.

“Put all of that together, and those countries are going to be very, very important markets for us,” he said.

Most of the investments in Asia will be in growth equity, rather than larger buyouts, he said.

Novo Holdings’ total income last year stood at 31 billion Danish crowns, of which 19 billion came from its ownership of Novo Nordisk and Novonesis and 13 billion were returns from its investment portfolio.

Novo Holdings said last month it would buy manufacturing subcontractor Catalent for $16.5 billion and resell three plants to Novo Nordisk to boost Wegovy output.

Kutay said that deal was a one-off and that Novo Holdings would avoid any overlap with Novo Nordisk such as diabetes or obesity.

Novo Holdings has not yet fully developed a strategy for Catalent but there are no plans to sell off any assets, he said.

($1 = 0.9156 euros)

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Editing by Louise Heavens)