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Thermo Fisher to Sell Athena Dx, Lancaster Laboratories for $940M

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Thermo Fisher Scientific today said that it has reached agreements to sell its Athena Diagnostics and Lancaster Laboratories businesses for a total of $940 million.

Thermo Fisher said it will sell Athena, which specializes in diagnostic tests for neurological conditions, to Quest Diagnostics for $740 million. Worcester, Mass.-based Athena had approximately $110 million in revenues in 2010 and is part of Thermo Fisher's specialty diagnostics business within its Analytical Technologies segment.

"The acquisition of Athena Diagnostics, the premier provider of esoteric and genetic testing for neurology, will establish Quest Diagnostics as the clear leader in this rapidly emerging market, which represents one of the next significant growth areas in diagnostic testing," Surya Mohapatra, chairman and CEO of Madison, NJ-based Quest Diagnostics, said in a statement.

In a separate deal, Thermo Fisher is selling the Lancaster Laboratories business to Belgium-based Eurofins Scientific for $200 million, subject to a post-closing adjustment. Lancaster is a contract testing lab based in Lancaster, Penn., offering analytical services to pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and environmental sciences customers. It had 2010 revenues of around $115 million and is part of Thermo's biopharma services business within the Laboratory Products and Services Segment.

"Athena and Lancaster have performed very well within our company and we believe that these strategic buyers will offer them even greater opportunities for growth in the long term," Thermo Fisher Scientific President and CEO Marc Casper said. "The transactions position both businesses in companies that are closely aligned with the unique contract laboratory services they provide and, at the same, will generate significant proceeds that we can redeploy to create shareholder value."

The divestitures of Athena and Lancaster come as Thermo Fisher moves toward wrapping up its $2.1 billion acquisition of Dionex. It recently extended its offer to April 7 to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Dionex, and completed the sale of $2.2 billion in senior notes to pay for that acquisition.

In 2010, the Athena and Lancaster businesses contributed $.11 to Thermo Fisher's full-year adjusted earnings per share, or $.09 on a GAAP basis. The firm's 2011 full-year guidance of EPS between $4.00 and $4.10, provided on Feb. 2, did not include the impact of the divestitures or the benefit of its pending acquisition of Dionex, said Thermo.

In addition to the divestitures, Thermo Fisher said that its board of directors has authorized a new $750 million share repurchase program, which expires Feb. 22, 2012. The firm said that, as of today, it has around $385 million remaining under its existing share repurchase authorization, which expires Sept. 8, 2011.

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