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Thermo Fisher to buy molecular diagnostics firm Qiagen for $11.5 billion

Purchase brings the instrumentation giant into the fight against coronavirus

by Craig Bettenhausen
March 3, 2020


A photo of Qiagen coronavirus diagnostic kits.
Credit: Qiagen
Qiagen has shipped a prototype coronavirus test kit to hospitals in China and France.

Thermo Fisher Scientific will spend $11.5 billion to acquire Qiagen, a molecular diagnostics and sample preparation firm with a test for the coronavirus in the works.

Based in the Netherlands, Qiagen reported $1.53 billion in revenue in 2019. It employs around 5,100 people at 35 locations around the world. The price represents a 23% premium over Qiagen’s stock price prior to the announcement on March 3.

A deal for Qiagen was rumored in November, but talk subsequently quieted down. Qiagen stated in December that “the various alternatives to the stand-alone prospects were not compelling,” and “the board and has terminated all discussions so that full management focus can be on executing the stand-alone plan.”

Now, Thermo Fisher and Qiagen expect to close the takeover in the first half of 2021.

The purchase continues Thermo Fisher’s interest in acquiring diagnostics firms, which began with the $3.5 billion purchase of the autoimmunity diagnostics maker Phadia in 2011. In 2012, Thermo acquired the transplant diagnostics maker One Lambda for $925 million, and in 2014 it purchased rival Life Technologies for $13.6 billion. Qiagen will give Thermo a strong presence in clinical infectious disease testing as well as in instruments and products for academic researchers.

In a report to clients, Puneet Souda, who covers Thermo Fisher for the investment firm SVB Leerink, says he expects Thermo Fisher to continue its successful history of integrating acquisitions and improving operations. Thermo Fisher “has a long history of buying assets and improving the growth and margin profile over time,” he writes.

In addition to continuing an acquisition trend, the move puts Thermo Fisher at the forefront of the coronavirus crisis. In late February, Qiagen shipped diagnostic kits capable of differentiating the virus responsible for the current outbreak from other respiratory diseases to four Chinese hospitals. The hospitals are testing the kit, which Qiagen says can give clear results in an hour. A hospital in Paris is also testing the kit. The firm says it is applying for emergency authorization to make its tool available in the US, South Korea, China, and Europe.



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