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Roche to Acquire NimbleGen for $272.5M, Eyes Additional Genomic Vendors

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Roche plans to acquire NimbleGen Systems for $272.5 million, the Swiss biotech giant said today.
 
Saying that NimbleGen’s arrays complement Roche’s ongoing genomics campaigns, Roche Diagnostics CEO Severin Schwan said the deal is part of the company’s strategy to gain ground in the genomics research market by “extending our activities into the microarray segment.”
 
NimbleGen, a private company based in Madison, Wisc., in March filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to file an initial public offering of stock but had not set a specific date or opening share price.
  
Roche said the acquisition, which would make NimbleGen a division of Roche Applied Science, which is part of Roche Diagnostics, still depends on approval from NimbleGen’s shareholders.
 
NimbleGen offers products and services for genomic hybridization, chromatin immunoprecipitation arrays, comparative genome sequencing, and expression analysis.
 
The array systems from NimbleGen are “highly synergistic and will complement the existing Roche portfolio of innovative genomic research tools such as the LightCycler qPCR systems and the high-throughput Sequencing Systems from the recently acquired company 454 Life Sciences," Roche said in a statement.
 
Roche said NimbleGen has plans to expand its product line “in the near future” to include higher-density arrays, integrated instrument systems, and related reagents and consumables for advanced genome analysis.
 
In its filing with the SEC, NimbleGen said that 2006 revenue from microarray sales and grants grew 43 percent to $13.5 million from $9.5 million in 2005.
 
NimbleGen in October licensed nucleic acid microrarray technology from Affymetrix, and in January it struck a licensing and supply deal with Oxford Gene Technology for oligonucleotide array IP.
  
Having access to Roche’s international sales and distribution network “will accelerate and broaden our high-density DNA microarray business,” said NimbleGen CEO Stan Rose, adding that the merger also will enhance the companies' “new technologies focused on targeted DNA sequencing.”
 
Roche said it expects to retain NimbleGen’s 140 employees and keep NimbleGen’s facilities in Madison; Reykjavik, Iceland; and in Waldkraiburg, Germany. The company expects the deal to close in the third quarter.
 
Separately, a news report quoted a Roche spokesperson as saying that the company continues to screen the market for genomic-research tools companies, though no deal is currently in the pipeline.
 
“Genomic research tools are key for the future of any major pharma group,” a Roche spokesperson was quoted by Thomson Financial News as saying. “These tools help our understanding of genetic causes of disease and predisposition factors, and also help in identifying potential drug targets and thus offer a great potential for pipeline development.”
 
The spokesperson said Roche was willing to pay a “considerable price” for NimbleGen, according to Thomson.

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