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Life Tech acquires Advanced Microscopy Group
December 2012
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


CARLSBAD, Calif.—Life Technologies Corp. announced in November the acquisition of Advanced Microscopy Group (AMG), a privately held developer of imaging systems for research microscopy incorporated as Westover Scientific Inc. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.  
Earlier this year, in February, after what it called "a year of whirlwind success," AMG was recognized by Thermo Fisher Scientific at the 2012 Thermo Fisher Scientific National Sales Meeting as the North American Vendor in 2011. At the time, AMG couched the award as "a clear message from Thermo Fisher Scientific that AMG is the brand to beat in the microscopy world."  
One could take that, in combination with the recent acquisition decision by Life, to represent an "if you can't beat 'em, acquire 'em" philosophy on the part of the acquiring company, but Life—already a huge player in the imaging and reagents space—sees it more as a natural progression.  
"The guys at AMG manufactured our FLoid Cell Imaging Station, so we started working with them in the first half of 2010," recalls Brett Williams, vice president and general manager of Flow Cytometry and Imaging at Life. "That was the first project we had worked with them on. Over the course of that work, we came to appreciate that the two companies had some similarities and their benchtop instrumentation very much aligned with our philosophy and goals. So, we had a very natural process of coming together over time."  
Life notes that the AMG acquisition will enable it to expand its product line of cell imaging instrumentation, while leveraging its Molecular Probes portfolio of fluorescent dyes and reagents. The acquisition also provides new product development opportunities for both laboratory and portable imaging devices, Life notes, adding that its Molecular Probes range of fluorescent dyes and probes are broadly used in the research market and "constitute a natural complement" to the EVOS line of microscopes manufactured by AMG.
"Our acquisition of Advanced Microscopy Group brings together two leaders in the cell imaging field," said Peter Dansky, president of Molecular and Cell Biology at Life, in the news release about the deal. "With AMG's demonstrated excellence in innovative microscopy instrumentation and the Molecular Probes line of market-leading imaging reagents, we're now better able to serve our customers with a complete portfolio of integrated solutions for cell analysis optimized for performance and ease of use."  
AMG has a portfolio of imaging instruments that ranges from basic to advanced microscopy. The EVOS line, notably, has in part been designed to improve ease of use by eliminating conventional eyepieces and replacing them with LCD screens. Two entry-level microscopes, EVOS XL and EVOS XL-Core, address the tissue culture market for routine monitoring of cell culture through measurements of cell density and morphology. The instruments are brightfield- and phase contrast-enabled and come with a range of magnification lens options. The EVOS FL, for its part, is a multicolor fluorescent microscope with brightfield/phase contrast capabilities and a range of objective options, Life notes.  
"Ultimately, it is our customers who will benefit most from the breadth of the combined portfolios. It also uniquely positions Life in the cell imaging field and will serve as the foundation for the development of new applications and products," said Steve Lytle, founder and president of AMG, of the deal when it was first announced.   Life also stands to benefit a great deal, given estimates that the microscopy market will soon be approximately $770 million, but the payoff for Life is more than that, Williams tells ddn.  
"What we're doing as a business is shifting from more reagents-only play to systems play," he explains. "In part, that will drive consumption of high-value reagents. But more than that, we've released four benchtop instruments in the past three years and created a space in the market that largely didn't exist. We have a philosophy of democratizing the benchtop space, and we don't see why reagents, instruments or the interfaces on those instruments should be overly complex. We want to make imaging easier."  
The acquisition of AMG is expected to be neutral to Life's 2012 earnings, accretive to 2013 earnings and accretive to the company's overall return on invested capital by 2015. AMG's existing business will remain in Bothell, Wash., and will join Life's Flow Cytometry and Imaging business unit.
"We're really looking to add to our portfolio," Williams says. "We're going to keep the site and the people where they are because it's a product innovation-based team and that very much complements our strategy. Around 20 percent of our revenue right now comes from products released in the last three years. We strive for product innovation excellence and that's something the folks at AMG can deliver for us."

Code: E121210



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