Samsung Biologics Co., the drug-manufacturing arm of the South Korean conglomerate, said it plans to list its shares in South Korea this year as it seeks to ramp up its presence in the growing market for biopharmaceutical medicines.

The company will select lead managers for the initial public offering next month to decide on the exact timing of the listing and the volume of shares to be offered, Samsung Biologics said in a statement Thursday. A spokesman declined to comment on the potential size of the IPO.

The drug company is a contract manufacturer, partnering with other pharmaceutical companies to develop and make complex biological treatments. In December, Samsung Biologics began the construction of an 850 billion won ($741 million) plant, its third, saying it was aiming to become the world’s largest biologics contract manufacturing organization. Once the plant is in operation, Samsung Biologics expects it will reach 1 trillion won in operating profit.

The listed entity could have a market cap of about 10 trillion won ($8.7 billion), the Maeil Business Newspaper reported on Monday.

Tae Han Kim, a former executive vice president of strategic business development at Samsung Group, was appointed the unit’s chief executive officer in April 2011. Since then, the company has announced manufacturing agreements with companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and a unit of Roche Holding AG.

Many of the pharmaceutical industry’s new drugs are called biologics. They are made up of organic, live substances such as hormones, antibodies and other proteins. These biopharmaceuticals are more complex to research and manufacture than other drugs and can address previously untreatable conditions with higher efficacy and fewer side effects.

Samsung C&T Corp. owns 51 percent of Samsung Biologics while Samsung Electronics Co. holds 46.8 percent.

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