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Covance to Acquire Merck's Gene Expression Lab

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Clinical research organization Covance said after the close of the market on Wednesday that it will acquire Merck's Seattle-based gene expression laboratory.

Although the Princeton, NJ-based firm did not disclose the price of the acquisition, it said that Merck had committed to a five-year genomic analysis services contract worth $145 million as part of the deal. The lab performs genotyping, gene sequencing, and gene expression profiling services. The firms did not provide revenue figures for the lab.

"We recognized the need to expand our footprint in the important and growing genomics testing market and this transaction provided both a superior and quicker entry point than the build or buy options we considered," Joe Herring, chairman and CEO of Covance, said in a statement. "The overall size of the genomics market is estimated at several hundred million dollars per year, including services for discovery/preclinical and clinical trials support."

Covance said that it expects to offer the majority of current staffers of the lab continued employment. It is scheduled to assume occupancy of the site and operation of the gene expression lab on Aug. 17.

Merck's Rosetta Inpharmatics subsidiary is based in Seattle. The firm recently announced a deal to sell the Rosetta Biosoftware unit of Rosetta Inpharmatics to Microsoft for an undisclosed sum of money.

The sale of the businesses come several months after Merck said that it would shut down its Rosetta Inpharmatics research site in Seattle. The firm also targeted the closure of research sites in Italy and Japan.

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