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Sysmex to Re-Acquire Hematology Business from Roche Diagnostics

NEW YORK, May 8 - Roche Diagnostics will end a distributorship, sales, and service agreement with Sysmex one year ahead of schedule, the companies said today.

The deal, penned in February and due to end in 2004, had Roche selling Sysmes' hematology products in the United States. However, Roche will continue distributing the products outside the United States. In addition, Sysmex will continue a supply and distribution relationship with Roche Diagnostics throughout Latin America and Canada, the firms said.

A Roche spokesman said a new end date has not been set, but added it will likely discontinue selling the products sometime in July.

"Although hematology is an element in the diagnostics market, it was decided that both Roche and Sysmex would achieve greater success and profitability by focusing on their respective strengths," said Martin Madaus, president and CEO of Roche Diagnostics. "Therefore, both parties agree that for business reasons, it is best that the business be transitioned back to Sysmex.

"This pending move is in line with Roche's strategy to increase our focus on the tremendous growth opportunities we have in diabetes, molecular diagnostics, immunochemistry, and chemistry," said Madaus. The spokesman, Joel Reuter, told GenomeWeb that though hematology products "are important" to molecular diagnostics, they are not as profitable as other diagnostic components.

Sysmex, based in Tokyo, is currently expanding its business with new hires and a plan to move into larger headquarters, the company said. It will "re-assume direct responsibility for customer sales, service, support, contracts, and operational functions" of the hematology business.

Additionally, "many current Roche employees" who are "directly involved" with the hematology business--"including positions in sales, service, support, contracts, and operations"--will be considered for employment by Sysmex.  

"Representatives from Roche and Sysmex agreed that the affected employees are a key priority and both parties agreed to provide assistance during the planned transition," the firms said in a joint statement.

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