A merger of equals in specialty diagnostics

Viracor merges molecular diagnostic testing services with IBT Laboratories’ focus on immunology testing to create specialty diagnostics company

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo.—ViraCor Laboratories and IBT Laboratories announced recently they will merge to form a specialty diagnostics company that will work with biopharmaceutical clients on research and development and clinical-trial testing.

Uniting the strengths of ViraCor and IBT, the new company will have an enhanced R&D infrastructure and broad scientific proficiency that will allow it to create an expanded menu of diagnostic tests to serve the unmet needs of physicians, hospitals and researchers in the immunology and infectious disease arenas nationwide. The company also will offer an extensive range of services to biopharmaceutical clients seeking support for discovery and clinical-trial testing.

According to John Martin, president of ViraCor, the companies share many values and areas of expertise.

"Separately, our companies have become market leaders in niche areas and enjoyed significant growth over the last few years," says Martin, who will become president of the combined company. "Both companies have grown significantly the last few years and this merger will allow ViraCor and IBT to leverage each company's individual strengths in order to expand our presence and broaden our services. ViraCor and IBT have complementary areas of expertise and complementary strengths. By joining forces, the company can grow more quickly and diversify the services we offer faster than we could as separate companies."
While financial terms of the deal were not released, the merger of ViraCor and IBT creates a combined company with more than 200 employees that serves more than 4,000 physicians, hospitals, commercial laboratories and biopharmaceutical companies. The new company's broad test menu includes cellular, immunology and allergy testing services as well as molecular assays that detect and monitor microbial pathogens.

ViraCor founder and CEO Phillip "Flip" Short will step down from his role as CEO and serve on the new company's board. IBT founder Dr. John Halsey will continue to work with the new company as a consultant. Dr. Laurence R. McCarthy, a venture partner at Ampersand Ventures who served as executive chairman of IBT's board of directors, will serve as executive chairman of the combined company's board of directors.

The combined company will operate out of its two current laboratory facilities located 22 miles apart in Lee's Summit, Mo., and Lenexa, Kan.

"This deal was actually a merger of equals, not an acquisition," notes Maureen Loftus, president of IBT, who will serve as chief business officer of the combined company. "ViraCor and IBT will not be eliminating jobs. In fact, the goal is to continue to grow the combined organization and consequently adding jobs to support that growth."

Loftus also points out that ViraCor and IBT share a dedication to unsurpassed client service as well to pioneering science that addresses the unmet diagnostic needs of countless patients.

"By combining our expertise and resources, we have created a company with an unmatched commitment to patient care, a rich diagnostic test menu, and deep R&D capabilities that will continue to set new standards for quality service and science in the clinical laboratory industry," she says.

The deal didn't happen overnight, though. Loftus notes that conversations between the companies have been occurring informally for several years, though talks specific to this merger began in earnest late in 2008.

"We have discussed merger and acquisition opportunities with other companies in the past, but none related or linked to this merger," she adds.

Both Loftus and Martin agree that the most important goal of the combined company is to continue providing exceptional customer service and ensuring its customers' needs are being met by developing high-quality assays and unique tests that improve patient care and better the overall healthcare landscape.

"We also will be working to thoroughly integrate our companies while continuing to grow our immunology and allergy and infectious disease test menus in the months to come," adds Martin. "In fact, ViraCor and IBT have several new assays in development right now. Additionally, we are looking forward to introducing our clients them to our expanded menu of tests and scientific expertise."

Martin also points out that by joining forces and marrying the companies' respective scientific expertise, ViraCor and IBT can grow more quickly and diversify their services and test menu faster than they could as separate companies. 

"In addition, the combined company can have a greater impact on patient care and science, and offer even greater value to our clients nationwide," he adds.

Established in 2000, ViraCor specializes in infectious disease testing and working with patients who have compromised immune systems. IBT was established in 1983 and has developed tests for allergies to roughly 900 substances, including eggs, peanuts and milk.
Combined, Loftus says success of the merged companies will be measured in continued growth over the next several years.

"We plan to achieve this goal by continuing to meet and exceed client expectations by developing new assays that will help our physicians and hospital partners better serve their patients," she says.

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