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Broadening its footprint in biotech
GÖTTINGEN, Germany—Taking a big step toward broadening its pipeline for the development and production of biotech medicines, biopharmaceutical Sartorius closed on the acquisition of selected life-sciences businesses of Danaher Corp. on April 30. This multimillion-dollar acquisition reportedly will help Sartorius strengthen its lineup of downstream bioprocessing products, bringing it closer to providing a complete bioprocessing solution for the pharmaceutical industry.
“The acquisition of this portfolio is a further milestone for Sartorius,” says Joachim Kreuzburg, Sartorius executive board chairman and CEO. “The assets we purchased are an excellent strategic and operational fit with both our divisions. We are very pleased to welcome approximately 300 new Sartorius employees and to combine our expertise to become even more relevant together for our biopharma and life-science customers.”
Sartorius paid a purchase price of $825 million for the acquisition and, since the execution of the purchase agreement on Oct. 19, 2019, has been preparing for integration of the acquired businesses into the two divisions of the Sartorius Group, Kreuzburg states. And despite the “special conditions prevailing during the pandemic crisis,” integration has already started, according to a company spokesperson.
“For a long time, we have been pursuing the strategy of making our portfolio broader and more attractive for our customers in the biopharmaceutical industry—a very consistent continuation,” says Andre Hofmann, Sartorius' head of public relations. “As a result of the acquisition, the company’s broader offering will support customers even more comprehensively in the development of biotech medicines and vaccines, as well as in the safe and efficient production of such pharmaceuticals.”
According to Hofmann, “Investors responded positively to this deal,” but he notes that even more important is the positive feedback from customers, whom he points out increasingly demand seamless solutions between their various production steps. And that demand includes efforts related to the pandemic.
“Since hardly any vaccine is produced without Sartorius technology or products, we already have an impact on the development of a vaccine against COVID-19,” Hofmann remarks. “For example, our customer CanSino Biologics and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology recently got approval for their vaccine candidate for COVID-19 to enter a Phase 2 clinical trial. The customer is using Sartoriusʼ Biostat STR 200L bioreactors to prepare clinical samples.”
Moreover, demand for consumables for the production of medications and vaccines, as well as for diagnostic test kits, has been high within the first months of the year, he says.
Sartorius was able to seal the acquisition deal by taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity.
“[Danaher] had to divest certain assets to close their deal to acquire the GE Life Science business,” Hofmann explains. “As this opportunity opened up, we sought talks at an early stage. The various requirements of the antitrust authorities in the different countries were high, so the matter took a few months. This is now the look in the rear-view mirror as we are looking forward to the integration, and together we will take advantage of the many opportunities that are now available to us.”
The businesses acquired by Sartorius generated revenue of approximately $170 million in 2019 and cover various laboratory and bioprocessing technologies, which are complementary to the portfolio lineups of both Sartorius divisions, according to the company. Sartorius is thus extending its market position in bioanalytics, as well as in key areas of the manufacture of biotech medications.
The FortéBio business for label-free biomolecular characterization includes protein analysis instruments, biosensors and reagents that are used in drug discovery, and will be integrated into the bioanalytics unit within the Sartorius Lab Products & Services Division, Hofmann says. The products are based on patented biolayer interferometry technology and perform real-time analysis of various biomolecular interactions. FortéBio employs approximately 200 people worldwide, with production sites in Fremont, Calif., and Shanghai—and accounts for close to half of the revenue generated by the acquired businesses.
With the chromatography systems and resins business also acquired, Sartorius is expanding the portfolio of its Bioprocess Solutions Division in the downstream processing area, he adds. This business addresses an essential step in the purification of biopharmaceuticals and encompasses both reusable and single-use equipment, columns and resins.
A further asset is the SoloHill business covering microcarrier technology and particle validation standards used in cell cultures and other bioprocesses. Together, these various business entities employ approximately 100 people at their sites in Portsmouth, U.K.; Cergy, France; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Hopkinton, Mass.