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Amersham Acquires Two Firms to Automate Filtration and Chromatography Technology

NEW YORK, Feb. 1 - Amersham Biosciences said on Friday that it had acquired the filtration-separation companies A/G Technology and InnovaSep Technology.


Amersham will pay $40 million and $60 million, respectively, for the companies, according to Peter Ehrenheim, executive vice president of Amersham. The transactions would initially be "earnings neutral" from the for Amersham.


"Moving into the filtration market is a natural step for us, building on our strength in chromatography," Ehrenheim said in a conference call on Friday. "We believe that the two acquisitions give us a good position to expand."


A/G Technology, based in Needham, Mass., specializes in hollow fiber products for ultrafiltration, microfiltration, and gas separation in biopharmaceutical production. The company has 28 employees and $9 million in annual sales.


Ehrenheim said Amersham has two hopes for these acquisitions: In the short term, the company plans to apply its global sales muscle in order to ramp up sales of A/G's filtration technology. 


A/G is now the No. 5 player in the biopharmaceutical filtration market, which is dominated by Millipore. Ehrenheim said that Amersham Biosciences hoped to ultimately capture a 20 percent to 25 percent share of this market, which he estimated to currently be worth $350 million to $400 million and have an annual growth rate of roughly 15 percent.


Amersham's longer-term goal with these acquisitions is to develop products that will integrate and automate filtration and chromatography in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, reducing lead time and labor. Ehrenheim said that this effort might bear fruit within three to four years.


Ehrenheim said that A/G's hollow fiber technology has advantages in cell harvesting steps and other procedures with a lot of particulates in solution. The technology improves the lifetime of cartridges, and does not require as much equipment as traditional filtration methods.


He added that the real value of the acquisitions would come further down the road. "The main cost advantage and productivity advantage is what we can provide by integrating competence in field of chromatography and filtration, which we'll be able to deliver in two to four years time," said Ehrenheim.


InnovaSep, launched less than a year ago, currently has no product or revenues. Ehrenheim said that Amersham Biosciences was interested in the company's  technology and management team, including filtration expert Attila Herzeg.


Amersham will initially operate both companies as independent entities, said an Amersham spokesperson, and plans to retain all staff from both firms. In the next year, both will be consolidated at a site in the Boston area.

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