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Qiagen, Invitrogen Aggressive First-Half Acquirers

The first half of 2005 was marked by several major acquisitions by the companies in the BioCommerce Week Index. Qiagen and Invitrogen were the most aggressive in adding pieces to their businesses. Perhaps the most anticipated acquisition, however, was announced last week with Takara Bio inking an agreement to buy Becton Dickinson's Clontech unit (see article in this week's issue).

Industry observers expect the pace of mergers and acquisitions to keep up for the rest of the year as companies try to diversify and expand their offerings and seek access to emerging markets. Several firms in the BioCommerce Week Index have already stated their intentions to make additional acquisitions this year (see BioCommerce Week 05/26/2005). Invitrogen, the molecular biology tool field's most active acquirer over the past couple of years, has said that it could spend up to $500 million on further purchases before the year is done (see $8 million



Zymed




$60 million



Dynal



April 2005


$391 million



Caltag



May 2005


$20 million


Lucier also said, ""Undoubtedly there are technologies we can add to enhance our ability to perform in this business model."" But for now, Invitrogen plans to aggressively pursue deals as an OEM supplier and take market share from the other reagent makers.


Invitrogen will let its larger diagnostic partners handle the regulatory process, while the firm sticks to its role as a supplier, according to Lucier.


The firm also plans additional collaborations on biomarkers, such as the partnership with the Mayo Clinic signed this past December (see BioCommerce Week 12/9/2004), and is negotiating a similar collaboration with a well-known, yet undisclosed, cancer research center. The company expects to announce that deal in the second half of this year.


Another major consideration for the firm in playing in the molecular diagnostics space is its sample-preparation portfolio, and this was the key reason Invitrogen purchased DNA Research Innovations and its ChargeSwitch nucleic acid-purification technology in October. With this technology, the firm is taking aim at competitor Beckman Coulter, which enhanced its own sample-prep abilities with the recent purchase of Agencourt Biosciences (see BioCommerce Week 5/5/2005).


Invitrogen also fired a salvo across the bow of competitors saying that its sample-prep technology can work well on a variety of molecular diagnostic platforms. ""There are a lot of different existing installed base platforms out there right now, and we want to put our chemistries across as many of them as possible, including entrenched competitors who might not necessarily want us to do that,"" Lucier said.


There are also plans in the works to collaborate with an established imaging technologies partner on molecular imaging products, though company officials wouldn't name any potential candidates.


In a somewhat unusual move, Illumina sent a representative to the meeting to provide an update on the oligonucleotide collaboration between Invitrogen and Illumina. The firms reiterated their plan to launch the platform, based on Illumina's Oligator technology, and snatch up market share by providing lower-cost oligos through Invitrogen's expansive customer base (see BioCommerce Week 12/23/2004).


Lucier suggested that the partnership with Illumina could command a 50-percent market share in the next three to four years. The firms will be competing with the likes of IVT, Sigma-Aldrich, and Operon Biotechnologies.


One other noteworthy piece of information that was revealed during the webcast was that Invitrogen is evaluating adding instrumentation to its offerings. During a Q&A session, Shawn Smith, director of Invitrogen's BioProduction unit, said, ""Do we want to have a specific application platform that's automated within our own offering? The answer to that is, 'Yeah.' I think that's inevitable. I think we have to have the ability to offer the complete offering. It's a broader product portfolio than just the chemistries exclusively.""


Company officials declined to elaborate on what kind of instrument that might be.


— Edward Winnick ([email protected])


"/110668-1.html" target="_blank">BioCommerce Week 06/23/2005

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In addition, smaller firms are finding it difficult to raise money in the public markets, making them more amenable to being acquired by larger, more established players.

Month Acquirer Acquiree Price
January Agilent Computational Biology Undisclosed
January Invitrogen Zymed $60 million
January Sigma-Aldrich JRH Biosciences $370 million
April Sigma-Aldrich Proligo Undisclosed
April Beckman Coulter Agencourt $140 million
April Invitrogen Dynal $391 million
May Becton Dickinson FFE Weber Undisclosed
May Invitrogen Caltag $20 million
May Thermo Electron Kendro Laboratory Products $833.5 million
June Qiagen Artus $40 million
June Qiagen Tianwei Times $2 million
June Qiagen Nextal Biotechnology $9.7 million
June Takara Bio Clontech $60 million

— Edward Winnick ([email protected])

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.