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Agilent to Split into Two Companies; Life Sciences, Dx Business to Combine

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies announced today that it will split into two publicly-traded companies — one focused on its life science and diagnostics business and the other on its electronic measurement business.

The life sciences and diagnostics business, which also includes applied markets, has annual revenues of around $3.9 billion. It will retain the Agilent name, and current Agilent CEO William Sullivan will retain the same role and also serve as president of the company. CFO Didier Hirsch also will continue as CFO.

The firm will operate under two businesses: the Chemical Analysis Group, led by current group President and Agilent SVP Mike McMullen, and the Life Sciences and Diagnostics Group, which will be led by group President Lars Holmkvist, who joined Agilent last year through the acquisition of Dako. Nick Roelofs, who has been president of Agilent's Life Sciences Group, is leaving the company to pursue other business opportunities.

The electronic measurement company has annual revenues of approximately $2.9 billion and will be named at a later date. Ron Nersesian, who has been Agilent's president and COO, has been named president and CEO-designate of the new EM company.

Under the plan to split the company into two, Agilent's shareholders will receive a pro rata distribution of shares in the new EM company via a tax-free spinoff. The firm hopes to complete the transaction by the end of calendar 2014, subject to the satisfaction of closing conditions and approvals. Agilent's board of directors granted initial approval to pursue the separation plan at its meeting on Sept. 18, the firm said.

"Agilent's history is one of reinvention, starting with our own separation from HP and including four major spinoffs since 2005," Sullivan said in a statement. "We are once again making a bold move, as we have done many times in the past, to ensure a future of sustainable growth for both the LDA and EM companies."

One of the reasons cited for the split was that it will allow the firm to devote resources to its higher-growth life sciences and diagnostics business while reducing exposure to the cyclical dynamics of the electronic measurement market.

Last month Agilent reported growth in its life sciences, diagnostics and genomics business for the third quarter while its electronic measurement group saw a 17 percent decline.

Agilent doesn't expect the spinoff to impact its guidance for fiscal year 2013, though it does expect to incur one-time charges related to the transaction during reporting periods preceding the separation.

Investors reacted favorably to the news, sending Agilent's shares up 7 percent to $52.61 in early Thursday trade on the New York Stock Exchange.