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Affy Plans to Expand Genetic Analysis Footprint via M&A; May Look Beyond Arrays

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Affymetrix is planning to expand its presence in the genetic analysis market through an “aggressive” merger-and-acquisitions strategy that will likely extend beyond the firm’s foothold in the microarray sector, company officials said recently.
Speaking to investors at the recent Baird Growth Stock Conference in Chicago, Affy CFO John Batty said that the company is seeking to “acquire technology that will allow us to compete in the broader genetic-analysis market.”
Batty’s comments follow several statements Affy officials have made about the company’s M&A plans in recent months. During the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call in January, for example, President Kevin King said Affy is “bullish and aggressive about growing our business” and will “do more acquisitions going forward” in order to cast a “pretty broad net across this whole field of genetic analysis.”
At the Baird conference, Batty said that the company has spent the last year and a half developing “a long-range strategic plan” that sets out “a roadmap for the technologies we need to develop internally or acquire from outside sources.” 
To date, Affy has typically made acquisitions to bolster the capabilities of its flagship GeneChip microarray platform. In 2000, the company bought Neomorphic for $70 million to gain access to its computational genomics and bioinformatics capabilities. And in 2005, it purchased ParAllele Bioscience for $121 million for its molecular inversion probe technology.
Affy’s $75 million acquisition of USB, which closed in January, was also related to its chip business. The company said it plans to become a direct provider of reagents that were previously manufactured by other companies and bundled together with its GeneChip products. Meanwhile, Affy is developing a sequencing-on-array technology based on enzymes gained through the USB deal.
According to Batty, though, the company is now ready to buy technologies that may not necessarily integrate into its array business. “We have pointed out in our discussions with investors that we are really platform agnostic,” he said.
“Our mission is really to be the leader in genetic analysis tools, and that means that we may add additional platforms to the Affymetrix portfolio to really expand the reach of our solutions across the entire workflow, from discovery all the way to validation and routine use,” Batty added.
Affy has not provided any more detail on what kinds of technologies it would buy. The company had $431 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31.

The complete version of this article appeared in last week’s BioArray News.

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