Ajinomoto Co. Inc., a Japanese food additive corporation, has completed the $175 million purchase of San Diego’s Althea Technologies Inc.

The newly formed company will be called Ajinomoto Althea Inc.

Ajinomoto is best known for manufacturing the flavoring agent monosodium glutamate, or MSG, but it also develops pharmaceuticals and amino acids. It plans to expand its biopharmaceutical presence in the North American and Asian markets, and said its acquisition of Althea is a critical early step.

The companies recently celebrated the acquisition with a reception at the Hilton Torrey Pines hotel in La Jolla. It was attended by Ajinomoto executives including its president, Masatoshi Ito, and a slew of San Diego venture capitalists, biotechnology executives and local government officials.

“I’m quite sure that the combination of the two companies creates significant value,” said Hiroshi Shiragami, co-chairman and managing director of Ajinomoto. “Ajinomoto Althea aims to strengthen its business foundation and extend in the rapidly growing advanced biomedical fields, and aims to contribute to the San Diego industry expansion.”

Althea has worked contractually with more than 100 pharmaceutical companies in San Diego and around the world, developing medications and proteins and helping companies with drug development and clinical trials. It was founded in 1998 and employs about 220 in its San Diego lab and manufacturing space. The 2012 revenue for the privately held company was about $53 million.

“I thank you for choosing to invest in San Diego, and was pleased that you will be retaining Althea Technologies’ 200 local employees and all of Althea’s executive leadership team,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Peters. “With this acquisition, Ajinomoto intends to reach annual biomedical revenue of $320 million by 2020, which means more high-wage, high-skill jobs for San Diego.”

— Meghana Keshavan