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GE Healthcare to Acquire Whatman for $713M

This article has been updated to include comments from a conference call earlier today.
NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – General Electric’s GE Healthcare unit has signed an agreement to acquire Whatman for 270 pence per share, giving the transaction a total value of £363 million ($713 million).
The acquisition of Whatman will provide GE Healthcare with a portfolio of filters and membranes for laboratory, research, life sciences, and medical technology applications.
“We believe that Whatman’s considerable expertise in filtration, [and] their strong and innovative product offerings, will be a great addition to our portfolio, particularly in the area of sample preparation,” Peter Ehrenheim, president and CEO of GE Healthcare's life sciences business, said during a conference call today.

He noted that Whatman has new technologies for sample capture and storage, which he said “could be very useful as a component for the diagnostic industry.”

Ehrenheim also said that Whatman’s products are particularly complementary to GE Healthcare’s protein chromatography platform and cellular analysis technologies. 
Whatman recently said that it would report 2007 revenues of roughly £116 million, flat with last year’s results. According to Ehrenheim, GE Healthcare’s life sciences business brings in around $1.3 billion in annual revenue. “For life sciences, this is a big deal,” he said.

Whatman will add around 1,100 people to GE Healthcare's total staff of roughly 46,000, of which the life sciences business employs approximately 3,800.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of Whatman’s shareholders and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008. The transaction has been recommended unanimously by the directors of Whatman, who have agreed to vote their shares in favor of the deal. Whatman’s largest shareholder, Hermes Focus Asset Management, which owns approximately 15% of Whatman’s outstanding shares, has also agreed to vote in favor of the transaction.
GE, along with Millipore, were named as two of the suitors for Whatman in an article last month in the Financial Times.