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Thermo Set for Two New Proteomics Releases in 03 as Restructuring Inches Along

NEW YORK, Oct. 9 - Thermo Electron will launch two new proteomics tools next year as the company continues to shrink its once-massive footprint, a company official said today.


Speaking to investors at the UBS Warburg global life-sciences conference here, President and COO Marijn Dekkers said Thermo will introduce a Fourier-transform mass spectrometer designed to be used for drug development rather than pure research. This tool will likely cost $700,000, he said.


Thermo will also roll out a linear-trap version of its ion-trap mass spec, which he said will be more sensitive than the existing technology. Dekkers did not say how much this tool would cost.


Dekkers announcement comes two months after another company official said Thermo hopes to launch a high-throughput, automated version of its Raman molecular spec as early as next year.


Thermo has already automated the data-acquisition part of its existing spectrometer into a 384-well format, said Steve Lowery, an official in Thermo's spectroscopy division. The firm's next step is to consult with its recent acquisition CRS Robotics to develop a way of running multiple plates automatically--"as many as a hotel of 40 plates [and to] completely integrate it into the standard format."

Meantime, Thermo's mammoth restructuring continues. Dekkers said the company, which has already given walking papers to 14 percent of its staff, or 1,700 employees, since it started slicing and dicing its operations in January 2000, will shutter 114 additional facilities around the world by the end of the year. The closures, which were designed to help the firm trim $80 million in spending, will bring the number of Thermo shops to 224 from the 338 facilities it had open two years ago.


If Thermo decides it needs to save more cash from its life-sciences unit, Dekkers said it may start handing out pink slips to the bottom five percent of its R&D staff. Today, Thermo's life-sciences division eats up 55 percent of the company's $170 million R&D budget, which is 8 percent of total revenue, he said. Notably, most of Thermo's R&D spending goes to mass specs.


In January 2000, Thermo, a once-massive holding company, announced a major reorganization that sought to sell off $1.5 billion worth of businesses and narrow its focus from 24 publicly traded firms that spanned four diverse industries to a single business focused on just analytical instruments.


Before the reorganization, Thermo earned more than $4 billion a year. Today it earns half that.

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