S.Korea's Celltrion to build plant abroad as partners fret about N.Korea

SEOUL, Sept 29 (Reuters) - South Korean drugmaker Celltrion Inc said it was dropping a plan to build a third domestic plant after foreign business partners expressed concerns about the threat from North Korea, and would now build it overseas.

It is one of the first big South Korean firms to reveal a major change in business plans amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3 and has launched dozens of missiles this year. Insults and threats hurled between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have aggravated the situation further.

A decision on the location of Celltrion’s first overseas factory will be made by early next year, CEO Seo Jung-jin told shareholders at a meeting on Friday that approved the firm’s shift to the country’s primary KOSPI bourse from the junior Kosdaq market.

A Celltrion spokesman said Seo had made the comments in response to a shareholder’s question about the company’s preparations for a potential war.

Celltrion, which makes biosimilar drugs - near-copies of biotech drugs that are priced at a discount - has partnered with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, Israel’s Teva, France’s Biogaran and Spain’s Kern Pharma to distribute its products.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Hyunjoo Jin and Edwina Gibbs