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Microba Life Sciences to Sell 20 Percent Stake to Sonic Healthcare

NEW YORK — Microba Life Sciences said on Tuesday that it has struck a deal to sell nearly 20 percent of its shares to Australian medical diagnostic services firm Sonic Healthcare for A$17.8 million (US$12.0 million).

The companies are also finalizing a strategic alliance to distribute Microba's microbiome testing products in a number of international markets.

Under the terms of their stock sale agreement, Sonic will purchase 19.99 percent of Microba in the form of newly issued shares at A$.26 apiece. Pending Microba shareholder approval, Sonic will also acquire options for an additional 5 percent equity stake in the microbial genetics firm. Exercise of the options would result in an additional A$7.5 million investment in Microba.

The initial terms of the strategic alliance, meantime, calls for Sonic and its subsidiaries to exclusively distribute Microba's microbiome testing products to its customers, including general practitioners and medical specialists, in Germany, Belgium, and the UK. Sonic would have nonexclusive distribution rights to the products in Switzerland, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. The arrangement has a one-year term beginning in 2023 but is expected to be extended subject to the finalization of full licensing and distribution agreements, which is expected in the coming months, Microba said.

Microba was spun out of the University of Queensland in 2017 to commercialize a technology for microbial analysis, with a focus on the human gut microbiome. Earlier this year, the Brisbane-based company completed a A$30 million initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange. At the same time, it secured a US$3.5 million equity investment from Ginkgo Bioworks.