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LifeCell, a market leader in the umbilical cord stem cell banking in India, is planning to expand operations to Asia Pacific and African countries within the next one year. The company would look at fund raising in order to expand its operations internationally, including options to acquire companies or assets overseas, said senior management official.
"We are looking at Asia Pacific and Africa, which are the target markets, These are large-population, low-income markets with an Indian diaspora, and include countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and others," said Mayur Abhaya, MD, CEO, LifeCell.
The company has recently developed a community stem cell banking model, in which the stem cells collected from one donor can be used to treat another member in the community of donors, and vice versa. This has expanded the usability of the stem cells to adults also, who mainly require them from other donors. This has also helped to increase benefits of the community members, since they do not have to depend only on their own stem cell, but also rely on the larger sample size from the community. The company would be betting on this model in the countries it expands to, where such offerings are not available now.
The intention is to leverage the network that is already available and introduce new stem cell models that are available in the India market, he said. The umbilical cord banking and the therapeutic system which is under development could be offered to a larger population, he said.
"There is a lot of market opportunity. We will look at both organic and inorganic opportunities for expansion overseas. We are also looking at funding to support both the opportunities. In probably six months to a year, you will see some announcement," he said. While plans are in initial stage in terms of fund raising, it would be looking at raising funds to the tune of around Rs 500 crore to support the growth, said Abhaya.
It may be noted that the company, on Tuesday announced acquisition of the 18,000 cryo-preserved umbilical cord units and the respective customers from Cryo-Save India, which was earlier part of an international firm Cryo-Save AG. As per the deal, the stem cell units would be transported to LifeCell's preservation facility at Chennai in three months in different phases. The customers of Cryo-Save, through LifeCell's community stem cell banking program, can upgrade to receive unlimited access to a large, growing inventory of donor stem cells to get complete protection of stem cells for the entire family.
Earlier, the promoters of LifeCell International Pvt Ltd had bought back the minority shares held by Helion Venture Partners, paving way for the exit of the investor firm. Helion had invested around Rs 35 crore LifeCell for a 20 per cent stake in the company in 2013. The promoters bought the stake back at around Rs 72 crore. The company has also forayed into pre-natal diagnostics business by acquiring a firm in Chennai last year, for Rs 15 crore.