NEW YORK, Aug. 8 - Lab-automation company Zymark, told by its corporate parent to expand its life-sciences footprint, was given cash from a recent divestiture to pay for a "major acquisition" likely to close next month, GenomeWeb has learned.
"The goal is to expand our exposure as a life-science tool provider in general where automation will serve as a platform," according to Mark Roskey, Zymark's executive vice president for worldwide marketing. "And to expand we are going to have to bring in other pieces."
Roskey said the first "priority piece" to acquire is in the form of reagents and biology companies whose technology "runs in collaboration" with Zymark's automation. "We have liquid-handling instruments, we have screening instruments, so we are looking at reagent technologies that would run on those platforms," Roskey said.
He explained that Zymark was given "carte blanche at a certain level" to close the acquisition and hire additional staff to smooth the transition into an unfamiliar tech space. Though he declined to specify how much money the Berwind Group had given Zymark, Roskey did say it represents "a good chunk" of $600 million in proceeds the parent pocketed after divesting one of its holdings in February.
"We've been working hard at [looking for acquisition targets] for the last year or so and we are now down to a final few," he said. "We expect to announce a major deal in the next three to six weeks."
Roskey, who came to Zymark in January from Applied Biosystems, stressed that the expansion wasn't orchestrated to prop up a poorly performing core business. On the contrary, he said, "our parent is quite happy with the automation part, which is the reason they've given us carte blanche to add on."
The hope, said Roskey, is for Zymark to reach annual revenue approaching $300 million, compared with the $70 million the company currently collects. He added it should take Zymark about two years to reach that level, at which point it will have gained enough mass and velocity to go head-to-head with the likes of Amersham, ABI, and PerkinElmer.
Asked if this move represents an overture to going public, Roskey said, "I would say that isn't out of the question. There are a couple of different strategies we're pursuing, and that is one of them."