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With Acquisition of MWG Biotech s Microarray Unit, India s Ocimum Sets Sights on Chips Market

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Ocimum Biosolutions will acquire the core microarray assets of MWG Biotech, Wolfgang Pieken, speaker of MWG’s management board, told BioArray News last week.

Pieken said that MWG and Ocimum would finalize the sale “soon,” which will make Ocimum the sole owners of MWG’s core microarray assets. These assets include custom and catalog microarrays, including a 40K human genome chip; the ExpressArt mRNA Amplification Kits; a hybridization service; a bioinformatics service; and an online gene index for all of the catalog arrays’ content (See BAN 2/9/2005). The Hyderabad, India-based comp-any would also retain MWG’s 300 clients, but none of its employees.

Anarudha Acharya, Ocimum’s CEO, told BioArray News this week that the acquisition of MWG Biotech’s genomic diagnosis unit was the logical step for her 4-year-old company, which provides microarray analysis and software, but not the chips.

“Our goal is to provide solutions for anybody doing research in the genomics space and we are already doing one piece of [that] by providing microarray [users] with software, and the services that go along with it,” Acharya said.

“Now the next kind of tool or solutions we will be providing are the actual chips. It does fit in really well with what we’ve always wanted to be,” she said.

Following the transaction, Pieken said, Ocimum will own MWG’s genomic diagnosis unit outright. He declined to disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

The Ebersberg, Germany-based company shuttered both its genomic diagnosis (microarray) and genomic technologies (lab-automation) units following its decision to focus on core genomics services for the research and development market [See BAN 2/9/2005]. The genomic technologies unit was sold to Aviso, a German lab automation products developer, in January 2005.

Acharya said that Ocimum would move MWG’s Greensboro, NC, office to its Indianapolis facility, and would move the German company’s office in Bangalore, India to Ocimum’s headquarters in Hyderabad.

Ocimum has locations in India and in the US, Acharya said that her company’s services would be available worldwide. She said the company contracts distributors in Japan, Taiwan, Israel, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, and is prepared to provide its new microarray products to whomever wants to buy them. She said that central to Ocimum’s objectives is to reduce the cost of the technology to researchers, and that Ocimum would be offering discounted rates for first time clients as well as quantitative discounts for those that buy a certain number of chips.

MWG’s Pieken told BioArray News that although his company no longer had any employees working in its genomics diagnostics unit, it would retain its microarray know-how, and may, he hinted, work with Ocimum in the future.

Acharya explained that “there’s a lot of synergies between the two companies we both have a very strong informatics backend.”

“It would be a good for them to get some of [their work] done in India by us,” she said.

Ocimum did not present a timetable for when the new offering would become available.

— JP

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