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CST Acquires Dutch Firm to Expand Euro Distribution Channel; Plans to Make Services Standalone Biz

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This story originally ran on July 15.

Cell Signaling Technology announced last week it has acquired Bioke, a Dutch life-sciences distribution firm, for an undisclosed amount, giving CST a direct distribution channel in Europe.

Separately, a company official told ProteoMonitor that it will be restructuring its phosphoproteomics services group as a standalone business.

Bioke, which had been CST's distributor in the Benelux region, will be renamed Cell Signaling Technology Europe. Based in Leiden, the Netherlands, the company will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of CST and begin fulfilling orders for Europe beginning Jan. 1, 2010.

Bioke has a workforce of about 12 people who will be absorbed by CST, Fenel Eloi, COO of CST, told ProteoMonitor last week. Based in Danvers, Mass., CST manufactures and distributes antibodies and related reagent products for biomedical research, and employs about 300 people. The European office is the third it has created outside its home base since 2008.

"A company needs to have good control of its distribution channels in key markets," Eloi said in a statement. "To that end, CST established its Japanese operation in 2008, followed by China earlier this year, and for now concludes with this acquisition in Europe."

Also, this week, Chris Bunker, director of business development at CST, said that it will be positioning its PhosphoScan services group as a standalone business within the larger firm, with its own dedicated staff of four scientists, including one new hire, and its own instruments.

The service, which provides phosphorylation analysis to pharmaceutical and biotech firms, has been sharing personnel with CST's broader research division and using instruments and software from that division, he said.

CST is targeting the fourth quarter for the launch of the standalone service business.

The service offerings currently are limited to "extensive profiling where the output is data," Bunker said, but after the restructuring, the company expects that the PhosphoScan group will be able to develop that data into assays.

With the new, increased resources, the company will also expand into the academic arena as a customer base, Bunker added.

"It's a pretty major change for us," he said. "Historically we've been an antibody products company, and internally for us, this is the first acknowledgement that we will now offer something as a service."

Bunker said that he had been pushing to carve out PhosphoScan as a standalone entity for several years, and only recently was able to convince his bosses that it was not meeting its potential in its current iteration, in which it has been competing for instrument time and other resources, and competing with internal research objectives.

He declined to disclose the amount of revenues that the PhosphoScan business currently generates, except to say "they are not as substantial as our products business." In five years, after the carve-out is completed, it is expected to generate revenues of between $10 million to $20 million, he said.

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