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Thermo Eyes Informatics, Analytical-Instrument Vendors for Next Acquisitions

BOSTON, Aug. 6 - Thermo Electron, the analytical technology giant that's taken a fancy to developing a soup-to-nuts life sciences tools business, has set its sights on two tech areas it wants to buy into, a company official told GenomeWeb today.


Thermo said it hopes to acquire an informatics company and an analytical-instruments firm before the end of the year, said Marc Casper, president of Thermo's life- and laboratory-sciences unit.


To be sure, Thermo already has an informatics division, which sells its Nautilus LIMS tool and its newly launched eRecordManager analytical-data archive platform. Casper did not specify what kinds of informatics technology his company is now pursuing.


Casper, who spoke at his firm's sprawling booth at the 2002 Drug Discovery Technology meeting here, declined also to name companies that may be particularly attractive to Thermo.  


Though there's "a definite time aspect" to any acquisition, Casper said Thermo can wait until it finds "the perfect fit"--a notion insiders say is in line with the company's goal of putting miles between itself and its former modus operandi of snatching up troubled firms and turning them around for Wall Street's sake.


The mantra now around Thermo is: 'Let's get ourselves known for our products, and the other stuff'--namely, interest on Wall Street--'will follow.'


"We don't want to be seen as a serial acquirer," said Caroline Grossman, director of communications for Thermo.


The practical demonstration of that goal is its latest acquisition, of Canadian lab-automation company CRS Robotics, which to Thermo answered a need for an in-house automation capability. That all-cash deal, which was announced in March, closed about three months ago and managed to avoid any layoffs.


"That's because we knew it was a perfect fit for us," said Casper.

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