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Pall aims for ForteBio to extend capabilities in $1B+ biopharma process monitoring market
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.—Pall Corp., a global provider of filtration, separation and purification products, has announced a definitive merger agreement under which it is to acquire Menlo Park, Calif.,-based ForteBio Inc., a provider of advanced analytical systems that accelerate the discovery and development of biotech drugs. The transaction is expected to close by February of 2012; terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pall is looking to extend its capabilities in the more than $1 billion biopharmaceuticals process monitoring market and in the protein research market, and it expects to see gains in both areas with the addition of ForteBio's label-free protein analysis instruments. Calling those products "an ideal complement to Pall's existing microbiological monitoring platforms," Pall notes that ForteBio's portfolio of analytical solutions allows researchers to measure proteins in real time without the aid of fluorescent, radio or calorimetric labels or markers that can contaminate samples, thus enabling easier, faster and better characterization of drug candidates—all with an eye toward improving process development and speeding time to market.

"Demand for label-free protein analysis continues to intensify and through the merger we now can bring the advantages of ForteBio systems to a wider range of customers," notes Dr. Joseph D. Keegan, ForteBio's CEO and president, adding that Pall's strong global sales channel will extend the reach of ForteBio instruments "and better position us to capitalize on opportunities in emerging regions in Europe and Asia."

ForteBio's original Octet family of products is based on the company's proprietary BioLayer Interferometry (BLI) technology. It incorporates disposable optical Dip and Read biosensors that measure multiple interactions in parallel, without the use of detection agents. For single-sample analysis, ForteBio recently launched its BLItz platform. According to the companies, the new platform "revolutionizes" the use of label-free protein analysis by making it more accessible and cost-effective for individual bench scientists and researchers. 
"We are thrilled about the acquisition of ForteBio and the added value it enables Pall to bring to customers," says Larry Kingsley, Pall's CEO and president. "BioPharmaceuticals continues to be the engine of our life sciences business and an important long-term growth accelerator. The addition of ForteBio's platforms into our business reinforces Pall's commitment to helping customers get their life-changing products to market safely and on time."      

Upon closing, ForteBio will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pall Corp. In the short term, the impact to Pall's results of operations will be immaterial, according to Kingsley.
In a recent investor's note, Zacks Investment Research agrees that ForteBio's collection of analytical solutions complements Pall's existing microbiological monitoring platforms and notes that Pall's BioPharmaceuticals offering from its life sciences business will be boosted through the add-ons from ForteBio, thus better serving its customers.
Adding some words of caution though, Zacks notes that Pall derives a major portion of its revenue from outside the United States and points out that the company's operating results may be materially affected by changes in foreign currency rates. Furthermore, Pall Corp. has a number of longstanding cost reduction and gross margin improvement initiatives. "Unexpected delays or other factors could impact the company's ability to realize the anticipated savings while improving its financial performance," Zacks notes, adding that "We currently maintain our 'Neutral' rating on Pall Corp. for the long term, with a Zacks #2 Rank (short-term 'Buy' recommendation) over the next one to three months."

News of the acquisition plans came shortly after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services indicated it might upgrade Pall from its triple-B rating (two steps above junk territory) if the company continues to show continued good performance, citing solid credit metrics and good operating performance. Analyst Dan Picciotto told the Wall Street Journal that the filtration, separation, and purification industry has generally good prospects, with growth that he expected to exceed the rate of U.S. gross domestic product.  
Code: E12281102



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