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BGI Stakes a Claim

China's BGI announced today that it is paying nearly $118 million in cash to acquire Complete Genomics — a move that has a number of industry observers speculating about the motivation for the deal and its broader impact on the sequencing services market.

At Omics Omics, Keith Robison asks, "what is BGI Shenzhen getting out of all this and how does it make sense?"

He concludes that Complete's US-based sequencing facility will be an advantage, since "speed is becoming an issue [for sequencing services], with the few days for a sample to transit the Pacific a serious hindrance." Complete's Long Fragment Read technology could be another boon for BGI, Robison says.

Conversations on Twitter, meantime, run the gamut from whether Roche would have been a better buyer for Complete Genomics to the impact on Illumina, given that BGI is one of the company's biggest customers (and has an ongoing patent suit with Complete).

Indeed, Peter Lawson, an analyst with Mizuho Securities, says in a research note that the deal will allow BGI to reduce its "dependency on Illumina [and] Life Technologies" by moving its sequencing work onto the Complete Genomics platform.

Others are speculating about the regulatory repercussions of the agreement if BGI decides to expand its clinical sequencing efforts in China.

Robison commends Complete for wrapping up the deal just three months after announcing a strategic review process. "On the public market for less than two years, they saw that their business model just wasn't working and headed for the exits." He contrasts this with Helicos, which has been struggling for several years. "[T]he open question for Helicos is whether there have been no reasonable suitors or Helicos has just been too stubborn to entertain reasonable offers," he says.

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