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Invitrogen Buys Panvera from Vertex

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 - Invitrogen will buy Panvera's cellular assays, reagents, probes, and proteins for $95 million in cash, the companies said today.


The deal, which also includes Panvera's newly built R&D and manufacturing facility in Madison, Wis., has been approved by the boards of both companies. The acquisition is expected to close this quarter or early next quarter, the firms said.


"This acquisition brings many key technologies to Invitrogen, significantly broadening our product offerings for determination of protein function, labeling and detection of biological molecules, and custom and pre-packaged biochemical and cell-based assays," said Invitrogen President and CEO James Glynn.


It was not immediately clear what will happen with Panvera's staff.


The news comes a little less than two months since GenomeWeb first reported  that the transaction was in the works. At the time, analysts believed Panvera's technology would make a nice fit with Invitrogen. "It makes all the sense in the world to me," John Sullivan, a Boston-based analyst with Stephens, said in mid-December when GenomeWeb broke the news. "What Invitrogen wants to do is continue to leverage one of their best assets--their distribution channel.


Michael Martorelli, an analyst with South African-based Investec, agreed, saying he would not be surprised if Invitrogen "bought assays or platforms or chemistry services."


The acquisition by Invitrogen is the latest in a topsy-turvy existence for the tiny unit of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. In March 2001 Panvera was bought by Aurora Bioscience for about $36 million. One month later Vertex bagged Aurora for its experience in G-protein coupled receptor and ion channel genes.


Now getting Panvera off its books makes sense to Vertex. The pharma company's earnings have suffered since buying Aurora/Panvera. In fact, Vertex griped that its increased net loss in the third quarter 2002 "was mainly the result of ... reduced revenue from Panvera. ..."


Additionally, Panvera's discovery-tools and -services business contributed significantly to the drop in total receipts for the three-month period ended Sept. 30, which fell to $34.3 million from $40.4 million one year ago. Broken down, revenue from royalties and R&D collaborations was $21.4 million in the third quarter 2002 compared with $20.5 million one year ago, while revenue from the Panvera subsidiary fell to $12.9 million from $19.9 million during the same year-over-year period.


Also, in its third-quarter earning statement released Nov. 4, Vertex said "Panvera revenues were affected by the redirection of technologies and resources from the former Aurora business to Vertex's pharmaceutical business, and the timing of completion of certain contractual obligations. The obligations have recently been satisfied, and Panvera will record the revenue related to the contract in the fourth quarter."

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