Bharat Biotech: All You Need To Know About The Vaccine Maker
A peek into the vaccine maker that’s courted much controversy.
India is buying Covaxin from Bharat Biotech Ltd. despite concerns that the Covid-19 vaccine was granted emergency use approval sans necessary efficacy data.
The decision has brought the Krishna Ella-controlled privately held company into the spotlight. It makes and supplies vaccines for polio, rotavirus and typhoid to Indian and several other nations. The bulk of its business comes from supplies to India’s immunisation programmes even as exports helped revenue growth last year.
The government is buying 55 lakh (5.5 million) doses of Covaxin at an average price of Rs 206 from Bharat Biotech. The company has already produced 20 million doses and plans to make 150 million before July or August, according to Ella.
The company got an approval on Jan. 3, along with Covidshield—the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine made in India by Serum Institute of India. But Bharat Biotech was still conducting phase 3 trials. While the trials were completed on Jan. 7, the company is yet to submit efficacy data—and any approval for a vaccine without it is unusual. Final data is only expected by March.
BloombergQuint analysed its filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Here’s all you need to know about Bharat Biotech.
Revenue jumped 35.2% over a year earlier to Rs 1,080 crore in the fiscal ended March 2020. The growth, according to ICRA Ltd., came primarily on commencing supplies of typhoid conjugate vaccine to exports markets.
Margin nearly doubled to 42%. That, according to the rating agency, was led by a favourable shift in revenue concentration from the low-margin oral polio vaccine to typhoid conjugate and rotavirus vaccines.
- Against a debt Rs 300 crore, the company has a cash and bank balance of Rs 379 crore.
- Around 67% of revenue was derived from domestic sales; and 33% from exports.
- Government institutions accounted for 44% of the top line.
Increasing competition in rotavirus and entry of new players to supply typhoid conjugate vaccine are likely to impact the company’s realisations in future, ICRA said.
Much before the company got embroiled in the controversy over Covaxin, it faced another row. In the financial year ended March 2019, its auditor BSR & Associates, a KPMG unit, resigned citing that they were unable to obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence, according to the resignation letter submitted to MCA. The four-year term was to end in 2020. Bharat Biotech replaced it with JVSL & Associates.
Bharat Biotech has yet to respond to BloombergQuint’s emailed queries.
Bharat Biotech is 73% owned by the Ella family as of March 2020, according to its filings. Besides Ella, his wife Suchitra Ella and Biotech Consortia Inc. are large owners from the promoter group.
Biotech Consortia Inc registered in the tax haven of the Bahamas.
Bharat Biotech has also issued preference shares. Biovet Private Ltd., a promoter-controlled entity, and World Bank’s arm International Finance Corp. have invested in these preference shares.
In fiscal 2020, Bharat Biotech invested Rs 130 crore in 8% redeemable non-convertible preference shares of Biovet Private. Biovet purchased 47% of preference shares from ICICI Ventures for Rs 1.56 crore.
Three products—typhoid conjugate, oral polio and rotavirus vaccines—generated 79.5% of its revenue in FY20, according to ICRA.
The company said in its filings that it’s one of the largest suppliers of polio vaccine in the past and is now among the largest suppliers of rotavirus vaccine to the government. It also makes Hepatitis-B vaccine Revac-B and rabies vaccine.
According to the filings, it owns more than 140 global patents and delivered 4 billion doses to 123 countries. It has partnered with All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Stanford University and the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention.
Bharat Biotech fully acquired Chiron Behring Vaccines Pvt.–WHO prequalification maker of vaccines—in FY19 from GlaxoSmithKline Asia. According to ICRA, Chiron restarted its operations after a technology upgrade in December 2019 and recorded a top line of Rs 38.1 crore in FY20.