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UPDATE 1-South Korea in talks with Moderna over $200 mln investment to build factory

· 02/04/2021 22:45
UPDATE 1-South Korea in talks with Moderna over $200 mln investment to build factory

By Sangmi Cha

- South Korea and COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna Inc MRNA.O are in discussions over a $200 million investment by the U.S. drugmaker in the country to build a factory, as it seeks to expand in Asia.

Former Minister of SMEs and Startups Park Young-sun, who stepped down in January to run for Seoul mayor, made the comments in an interview with The Asia Business Daily. She also said Moderna was highly interested in the Asian market, according to the report.

Her campaign official confirmed the report to Reuters. Moderna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Moderna has expressed its interest to invest $200 million ... and I'll continue to participate in the discussion for a while, as I had held talks with them as a minister," Park, was quoted as saying.

The campaign official also told Reuters the factory will likely be built in the capital Seoul.

She had her last video conference with Moderna on the day she left the office and the two sides were scheduled to hold a meeting next week, Park said.

The report follows a deal announced by South Korea in December to purchase 40 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine after President Moon Jae-in held an online meeting with the U.S. firm's CEO Stephane Bancel. nL4N2JB1TV

Mutual trust has further built up since the December meeting and Bancel had visited South Korea around 40 times, as he is greatly interested in the country's young manpower, Park told the newspaper.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

((Sangmi.Cha@thomsonreuters.com; +82 2 3704 5646; Reuters Messaging: sangmi.cha.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))