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Thermo, PerkinElmer Boost Diagnostics

Acquisition: Deals mark convergence of life sciences tools and medical diagnostics

by Marc S. Reisch
September 14, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 37

Credit: Brahms
A technician prepares blood serum to test for sepsis.
Credit: Brahms
A technician prepares blood serum to test for sepsis.

Scientific instrument makers Thermo Fisher Scientific and PerkinElmer have inked multi-million-dollar acquisitions to expand their businesses in diagnostics for the hospital testing market. The deals mark the continuing convergence of the hospital diagnostics and life sciences instrumentation fields.

Thermo agreed to pay $470 million for Brahms, a Hennigsdorf, Germany-based provider of in vitro diagnostics based on biomarkers for infectious, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases. Brahms has about 400 employees and posted sales of $105 million in 2008. It is jointly owned by managers and the Swiss private equity firm HBM Partners.

PerkinElmer acquired Sym-Bio Lifescience, a Chinese maker of instruments and reagents to diagnose infectious diseases, for $64 million. In a separate transaction, PerkinElmer also acquired the prenatal and newborn genetic screening business of India’s Surendra Genetic Labs.

Brahms is best known for its assay for procalcitonin, a biomarker of the life-threatening bacterial blood infection known as sepsis. Spun off from Marion Merrell Dow in 1994, Brahms derives more than 50% of its profits from the procalcitonin assay, which recently received FDA clearance.

Thermo CEO Marijn E. Dekkers says the Brahms acquisition will not only “complement our existing products for immunoassay testing” but also “reinforce our strategy of building on our leadership in niche specialty diagnostics markets.” Brahms’s headquarters outside of Berlin will serve as Thermo’s European center of excellence for clinical diagnostics.

PerkinElmer, meanwhile, says the Sym-Bio acquisition will double its access to the hospital market in China and provide a larger base from which it can expand its prenatal and newborn screening business. It also offers the firm the opportunity to use China as a manufacturing and R&D base. The Surendra acquisition gives PerkinElmer access to the underserved market of India, where 25 million babies are born annually.

Isaac Ro, a senior analyst with the investment bank Leerink Swann, says he expects to see more mergers of life sciences toolmakers and diagnostics businesses over time. Another example of such a convergence is the recent acquisition by medical tools maker Danaher of the AB Sciex drug-discovery-oriented mass spectrometer business (C&EN, Sept. 7, page 16).



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