The plant will manufacture tablets of existing Novartis pharmaceutical brands, such as Diovan, and new products, such as Tekturna. It is expected to be fully operational in 2009 and to employ around 160 employees.

In addition, Novartis has unveiled plans to build a large-scale biotechnology plant in Singapore to aid growth of its biologics sector, which now accounts for 25% of the Novartis product pipeline. The company expects to invest approximately $700m – its largest investment to date in manufacturing capacity – in the cell-culture facility.

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The biotech plant will employ more than 300 people when fully operational. Construction is expected to start in early 2008. Subject to regulatory approvals, it will be operational by the end of 2012.