Thermo Fisher to buy Life Tech for $13.6 billion

Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:49pm EDT
 
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By Bill Berkrot and Susan Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc on Monday agreed to buy Life Technologies Corp for $13.6 billion in a deal that would make it one of the top two companies in the hot field of genetic testing.

The pact values Life Tech at $76 per share, a 12 percent premium, and is one of the year's biggest corporate takeovers.

It would catapult Thermo, the world's largest maker of scientific and laboratory equipment, to the forefront of the fledgling field of personalized medicine, where research is uncovering the hereditary underpinnings of diseases to better tailor treatments to patients.

"Genetic sequencing is an area that will become increasingly important over the years in terms of specialty diagnostics, and Thermo needs to compete in that market because they have a number of products in that area that ultimately could get displaced by sequencing applications," said Macquarie Capital analyst Jonathan Groberg.

Thermo Chief Executive Marc Casper said advanced genetic testing was an important field going forward, and his company wanted to get into it as an industry leader. Life Tech is considered No. 2 behind Illumina Inc in the race to produce faster and less expensive gene sequencing technology.

"We didn't want to be a more distant participant, and this transaction facilitated us having a stronger position there," Casper said in a telephone interview.

Illumina last year rebuffed a $6.8 billion hostile takeover bid by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG. Shares of Illumina, which will now have to compete with a far larger rival with much greater resources, were down nearly 3 percent.

Interest in buying Illumina could heat up again, given the company's unique position in advanced gene sequencing.   Continued...

 
A view shows the headquarters of Life Technologies Corp in Carlsbad, California April 15, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake