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Twist Bioscience Shares Soar on Speculation of Lawsuit Settlement With Agilent

NEW YORK – Shares of Twist Bioscience rose 12 percent in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq on speculation that the synthetic DNA manufacturer is close to settling a trade secrets lawsuit filed by Agilent Technologies.

The San Francisco-based company's stock opened Thursday trading at $26.83 and the shares rose sharply in mid-afternoon trade to $30.11.

In a note to investors, Cowen Analyst Doug Schenkel wrote that the competitors "could be close" to settling an intellectual property lawsuit Agilent filed in 2016 against Twist, CEO and Cofounder Emily Leproust, and several other individuals. "Developments this afternoon ... are consistent with what you might expect if a settlement were imminent," he wrote.

According to the court docket, a hearing in the Santa Clara (California) Superior Court scheduled for Friday afternoon was cancelled. A trial set to begin Feb. 24 also appears to be cancelled.

"Our [legal] consultant indicated that while the court was not at liberty to confirm, these developments would often suggest that a settlement is close," Schenkel wrote.

Neither firm immediately responded to request for comment.

Leproust, a former Agilent employee, founded Twist in 2013. The Agilent lawsuit alleged Leproust and others misappropriated Agilent technology and that Leproust violated a contractual obligation to refrain from recruiting former colleagues for a period of two years. Agilent also alleged that Leproust actually founded Twist in 2011 while still employed by the firm.

Twist is scheduled to report its first quarter results for fiscal year 2020 after the close of the market on Thursday. The firm has previously said it believes the claims are "meritless" and that it would "defend itself vigorously."