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Celera Official Says Decision on Split with ABI Could Come By End of Quarter

SAN FRANCISCO (GenomeWeb News) – It’s looking very likely that Applied Biosystems and Celera will be split into two independently operated companies, and an announcement about the restructuring could come by the end of the current quarter.
Speaking yesterday at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference here, Celera President Kathy Ordoñez said that although a final decision had not yet been reached, Applera’s board of directors recently stated its preference that the sister companies be split into two independent entities rather than remaining tracking stocks of Applera.
Ordoñez said that Applera’s goal would be to finalize the split by the end of its current fiscal year, which ends June 30. If Applera pursues this option, it will file a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of the current quarter, she said.
She said that Celera could not have achieved its current position in the market without Applera’s financial backing and the help of Applied Biosystems’ technologies. “We’re grown up now and prepared to go out on our own,” Ordoñez said, pointing to Celera’s guidance that it will be profitable for the second half of 2008.
She added that Celera’s management is “excited about the prospect” of being independent.
The firm recently made two acquisitions that provide it with technologies and facilities that are key to its plans for the molecular diagnostics market.
The $195 million acquisition of Berkeley HeartLab in October provided Celera with technologies to develop new predictive molecular diagnostics for cardiovascular disease. Celera also gained a direct marketing vehicle for its tests and a CLIA lab through the purchase, Ordoñez noted at the conference.
Celera also paid $33 million that month to acquire Atria Genetics, a maker of human leukocyte antigen-testing products used in organ donor matching.
Ordoñez said some of Celera’s management has been shuffled following those acquisitions in anticipation of the firm splitting off from Applera, but she did not provide details of those changes.
In addition to the potential new tests from the Berkeley and Atria acquisitions, Celera has pharmacogenomic alliances with Merck and Ipsen and is working on a variety of cancer tests.
Ordoñez said the firm also is working on a next-generation diagnostics instrument based on ABI’s sequencing technologies. The firm had placed more than 400 of its M2000 diagnostic instruments as of Sept. 30, she noted.

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