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Beckman Coulter, Agilent, Sigma-Aldrich, Bruker Biosciences, Thermo Fisher Scientific, CombiMatrix

Beckman Coulter Selling $600M Worth of Senior Notes
Beckman Coulter this week said that it is offering $600 million worth of 2.5 percent senior convertible notes due 2036.
The offering, which includes a $75 million over-allotment option that has already been exercised, will net Beckman proceeds of $586 million.
The firm said it would use roughly $100 million of the proceeds to repurchase shares of its common stock. In a separate announcement this week, Beckman had said its board of directors had approved the repurchase of up to 2.5 million shares of its outstanding common stock through the end of 2008.
Beckman said that approximately $245 million of the proceeds from the senior notes offering would be used to consummate a tender offer for all of its outstanding 7.45 percent senior notes due 2008. It plans to use approximately $185 million of the proceeds to repay the bridge facility that it entered in connection with its recent acquisition of Lumigen.
According to Beckman, the purpose of the offering is to reduce its interest expense in order to fund additional research and development efforts, including the development of a next-generation molecular diagnostics platform (see related article).

Agilent Confirms Q1 Forecast
Agilent Technologies this week confirmed its first-quarter revenue guidance of $1.25 billion to $1.29 billion, which would be growth of between 7 percent and 10 percent year over year.
In a presentation to analysts and investors, the firm also confirmed its earlier guidance of earnings per share of $.36 to $.40 for the quarter ending Jan. 31, 2007, which is 24 percent to 38 percent above last year’s first quarter results. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect the firm to post a profit of $.38 per share and revenue of $1.27 billion.
Additionally, Agilent said that it is “comfortable with the current range of analysts’ estimates” for its 2007 fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2007.

Sigma-Aldrich Closes Debt Offering, Amends Credit Facility
Sigma-Aldrich last week closed a $100 million debt offering of 5.11-percent senior notes due Dec. 5, 2011.
The notes were placed with an unnamed institutional investor.
The company also said it retired $75 million 5.16 percent senior notes that matured on Nov. 20.
In a separate announcement this week, the firm said that it had amended the terms of its $150 million revolving credit facility established in Feb. 2005 by exercising the $150-million accordion feature. The revised $300 million revolving credit facility will mature on Dec. 11, 2011.

Bruker to Open Bruker AXS Unit in Australia
Bruker Biosciences this week said that it will launch a new Bruker AXS business unit in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 1, 2007.
The unit, which makes X-ray analysis tools for the industrial, materials research, and life sciences industries, will be responsible for selling products formerly distributed by Australian partner Sietronics. Bruker said that in an effort to ensure continuity, it has secured business management and service resources from its former distributor.

Brazilian Firm to Distribute Thermo Fisher’s LIMS System
Thermo Fisher Scientific last week said Brazilian company Interfusão will distribute and deploy Thermo’s SampleManager LIMS system and chromatography data systems to mining, metals, and minerals companies.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.  

CombiMatrix to Gain $10M from Acacia Investors
CombiMatrix last week said it stands to pocket $10 million when its parent company Acacia Research received commitments from “a select group of investors” to buy 9.8 million units of equity for $1.02 each.
Each unit includes one Acacia Research-CombiMatrix share and a five-year warrant to buy 1.2 million shares at $.87 each. The placement was handled by Oppenheimer & Co.
In an interview with BioCommerce Week’s sister publication BioArray News this week, CombiMatrix CEO Amit Kumar said the firm will use the VC cash to support the launch of several diagnostics services through its CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics unit.

The Scan

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.

Study Points to Synonymous Mutation Effects on E. Coli Enzyme Activity

Researchers in Nature Chemistry saw signs of enzyme activity shifts in the presence of synonymous mutations in a multiscale modeling analysis of three Escherichia coli genes.

Team Outlines Paternal Sample-Free Single-Gene Approach for Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening

With data for nearly 9,200 pregnant individuals, researchers in Genetics in Medicine demonstrate the feasibility of their carrier screening and reflex single-gene non-invasive prenatal screening approach.

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.