Kelso Pharma announces acquisition of Italy-based Velit Biopharma

The Kelso Pharma board members (left to right): Sam Gray, Apposite; Christian Schenk, Apposite, Tom Stratford, CEO; Gordon Cameron OBE, Chairman; Allan Watson, CFO. (Photo: Robert Perry)

KELSO Pharma (Kelso), the growing UK-based specialty pharma business, has taken its first step in its European expansion strategy by agreeing to acquire Italian specialty pharma company, Velit Biopharma (Velit).

With more than 100 partnership agreements in place with pharma companies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Velit has a portfolio of more than 50 pharma products and a strong pipeline of additional medicines in development, with a number of products available to be commercialised in the UK through Kelso’s existing infrastructure.

Velit’s therapeutic focus includes: gastroenterology; dermatology; and women’s health, all of which are complementary to Kelso’s existing portfolio of medicines. In addition, Velit’s portfolio has products focusing on oncology and ophthalmology which, alongside Velit’s strong business development and regulatory teams, will further extend Kelso’s in-house capabilities.

Velit’s founder and President, Dr Nicola Travierso, is a well-known and respected figure in the international pharma community and will remain with the business and join Kelso’s executive management team. All other members of the Velit team will remain with the business, further building Kelso’s development, regulatory and business development capabilities. The transaction is conditional on receiving Italian regulatory clearance.

Dr Tom Stratford, Chief Executive of Kelso Pharma, said: “Kelso Pharma is founded on our vision to bring innovative, value added, specialty medicines to healthcare markets across Europe and our acquisition of Velit is a perfect fit with this ambition. Not only does it have great people, but Velit brings with it a powerful portfolio alongside a rich pipeline of niche and generic+ products which Kelso can bring through our existing platforms.

“We plan to build on the strong partnerships that Velit has already formed to create further international success as we build a truly pan-European specialty pharma business.”

Dr Nicola Travierso, founder and President of Velit, said: “In Kelso we have found a true kindred spirit with whom we can take Velit to the next level alongside our valued partners. I look forward with enthusiasm and confidence to this next chapter in the Velit story in combination with Kelso Pharma.”

Sam Gray, Managing Partner at Kelso’s principal shareholder and backer, Apposite Capital, said: “This transaction represents an exciting opportunity for Kelso to build its business through the addition of this rapidly growing company.  Velit’s products, existing and under development, will strengthen Kelso’s portfolio in its target markets while Kelso can provide additional support for Velit’s impressive list of partnerships.”

Kelso Pharma is focused on bringing innovative, value added, specialty medicines to the European healthcare markets, providing medicines that improve the lives of patients in a cost-effective and ethical manner. The company is growing through a blend of company and product acquisitions, partnerships and organic growth and the Velit transaction is an important stepping stone for Kelso Pharma’s ambition to expand into the rest of Europe.

Since its inception in 2020, Kelso Pharma has taken a number of positive steps to grow the business in an effective and sustainable manner, positively impacting its partners and patients. The acquisition of Glasgow-based Stirling Anglian Pharmaceuticals (SAP) in January 2022 provided a new UK platform and springboard for future sales growth for the business.

SAP’s brand portfolio already has four medicines in the UK healthcare market, including Acepiro (Acetylcysteine) which was launched earlier this year and is used to loosen mucus and to ease coughing up in cases of respiratory diseases with viscous mucus. Last month, Kelso announced the acquisition of two UK approved dermatology products from German pharma company, Dermapharm.

Velit specialises in developing and registering “hard to make” medicines which it then makes available to patients through partnerships with pharma companies and distributors across Europe and beyond. It has more than 100 partnerships in 48 regions/countries covering 167 products, with more than 15 further launches with existing partners planned for 2024 onwards.

Velit was assisted as financial advisor by Cross Border, a corporate finance boutique based in Milan and London, in the persons of Carlo Montenovesi (Founding Partner), Giuseppe Cassisi (Industry Expert) and Nicolò Donetti (Financial & Legal Analyst).

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