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Icoria Sells Ag Business to Monsanto for $6.8M, Re-emerges as Biomarker-Discovery Shop

NEW YORK, March 24 (GenomeWeb News) - Icoria has sold its agricultural genomics assets to Monsanto for $6.75 million, existing the ag-genomics business and refashioning itself as a biomarker-discovery company, the firm said today.


Monsanto, which will get Icoria's Research Triangle Park, NC, facility in the deal, paid $4.75 million up front for the assets, with the remainder to be paid in January 2006, Icoria said.


Icoria, formerly known as Paradigm Genetics, said it expects to reduce its headcount by 70 staffers by the end of the second quarter, bringing headcount to 120. It added that 60 of these employees are expected to join Monsanto. Additional lay-offs occured at Icoria's Pittsburghoffices, the company said.


Icoria has conducted genomic agricultural research under contract for Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred, and DuPont Crop Science, and said it will exit the field after concluding its contracts. No date was provided. 


"Monsanto has more resources to fund and develop the GeneFunction Factory platform in transgenic plant applications than Icoria could hope to provide," Heinrich Gugger, president and CEO of Icoria, said in a statement. Gugger joined the company in July 2003, leaving his position as president of the North American crop-protection business for Syngenta.


Icoria said it expects savings of $5.2 million from reduced lease obligations, $3 million in net cash flow benefit, as well as an additional $4 million in annual savings in general and administrative costs.


With the sale of these assets, Icoria, which  changed its name from Paradigm Genetics last August, said it would reposition itself to focus on biomarker discovery for diabetes, obesity, and liver injury, using its metabolomics, gene-expression profiling, tissue analysis software, and computational assets.


The company will continue to offer its services as a research partner to pharma and biotech companies, and will maintain its Paradigm Array Labs business, which provides gene-expression profiling services using Affymetrix, Agilent, and proprietary technologies.

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