France: Théa signs €50 million finance contract with EIB to support R&D in ophthalmology | EU Commission Press

  • This first loan aims to fund investments to develop new molecules, pharmaceutical forms and innovative drug delivery systems for ophthalmic use. 
  • It will help to secure and increase the number of skilled jobs in a medium-sized European company that is highly competitive on a global level.
  • Investment guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the pharmaceutical group Théa have signed a €50 million finance contract. The operation will finance Théa’s research and development (R&D) activities to create new molecules, pharmaceutical forms and innovative drug delivery systems for ophthalmic use.

This is the first long-term partnership between the EIB and Théa to be set up under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.

Founded in 1993 but with roots dating back to the 1850s, Théa is a major French pharmaceutical group that has carved out a place for itself as a leader in the European ophthalmology market over the years. It has been run by the Chibret family from Clermont-Ferrand since its inception, whose work in the field goes back five generations. Théa covers almost all aspects of eye care (with the exception of retina treatments) and has a strong foothold in most of these areas, especially in the treatment of glaucoma and dry eye.

The project is expected to have significant benefits given the changing demographics and relatively high incidence of eye disease among older people. Addressing the unmet needs of medical conditions such as glaucoma, dry eye and eye infections will significantly improve patients’ lives and also reduce healthcare management costs. This operation will also help to preserve jobs and increase opportunities for skilled employment in the field of research and development in a fast-growing European company that is highly competitive in its field worldwide.

Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, said: “I welcome this investment by the EIB, backed by the Investment Plan for Europe, into French pharmaceutical group Théa. While supporting this competitive company, we will also boost Europe’s position at the forefront of pharmaceutical research and development and support skilled jobs.”

EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said: “The EIB is pleased to announce its support for Laboratoires Théa, a European family-run group that is leading the rapidly growing market for eye care treatments and products. This project is fully in line with the mandate set for the EIB by its shareholders, the EU Member States, to support innovation throughout Europe with the aim of improving — in Théa’s growing field of activity — the well-being of an increasing number of patients who are likely to need eye care.”

Background information

About Théa

Based in Clermont-Ferrand, Laboratoires Théa is a major player in the European pharmaceutical industry in the field of ophthalmology (excluding the retina market). It has around 30 subsidiaries in Europe, North Africa, North America, South America and the Middle East with nearly 1 500 employees, and its products are available in more than 75 countries worldwide. An independent family-run group that grew from a research and development startup founded by Henri Chibret — a fourth-generation member of the Chibret ophthalmic dynasty — it is now chaired by Jean-Frédéric Chibret (fifth generation). In 2020, Théa’s turnover was €603 million (27% in France, 58% in Europe and 15% in the rest of the world).

About the EIB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU), and its shareholders are the 27 EU Member States. The EIB’s remit is to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the EU Member States. It borrows large volumes of funds on the capital markets and lends them on very favourable terms to support projects that contribute to attaining the European Union’s objectives. The EIB is working to ensure that the European Union is on the cutting edge of the next wave of innovation, particularly in the healthcare sector. As the EU climate bank, the EIB is one of the leading providers of funding for investments in the green transition to a more low-carbon and sustainable growth model.

About the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. It provides first-loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more, and often riskier projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI should make it possible to mobilise €546.5 billion of investment (including over €90 billion in France) and support more than 1.4 million small and medium-sized enterprises across the European Union.