Ge Buys Whatman

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CHALFONT ST. GILES, U.K.—GE Healthcare and Whatman plc announced recently they have reached agreement for the acquisition of Whatman by GE for approximately $713 million.

Whatman, a global supplier of filtration products and technologies, has a broad product offering of filters and membranes for laboratory, research, life sciences and medical technology applications.

"Whatman's considerable expertise in filtration and their innovative product offerings are a great addition to GE Healthcare's Life Sciences business, especially in the area of protein purification," says GE Healthcare spokesman Arvind Gopalratnam. "We believe that combining the skills and products of the two companies will enable GE Healthcare to create added value for customers in biomedical and drug discovery research. This acquisition provides us additional innovative technologies and expertise in life sciences, and is part of our growth strategy as a provider of enabling technologies in protein and gene science."

Kieran Murphy, CEO of Whatman, says his company will benefit significantly from the business process expertise within GE Healthcare.

"Whatman's product opportunities within the pharmaceutical, diagnostic and forensics markets will have a greater chance of success within the larger GE Healthcare group," says Murphy. "The Whatman management team very much looks forward to working with the GE Healthcare leadership to maximize the potential of this great business."

Gopalratnam says understanding the role genes and proteins play in diseases has become increasingly important and he believes Whatman has key enabling technologies used in the understanding of gene and protein function.  
"Their technologies will help expand our existing Life Sciences research offering and will create added value for customers in biomedical and drug discovery laboratories," says Gopalratnam.

GE Healthcare's Life Sciences business is a provider of technologies for cellular and protein science research, and tools used in the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines, cell therapies and antibodies. The pairing makes perfect sense, adds Gopalratnam.

The takeover marries GE Healthcare's scanning equipment with the smaller company's software, which provides an understanding of what the scanners detect, giving a picture of what diseases are likely to occur and how to prevent them.

"We believe Whatman has a very, very strong strategic plan,'' says Peter Ehrenheim, head of the GE Life Sciences unit. "We will continue to execute basically that plan, and potentially accelerate that plan because we can put more resources behind it.''
Joe Hogan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, points out that Whatman was an attractive acquisition because of its track record of innovation, a strong reputation and brand with the research community, and talented employees.
"Whatman's product offerings are highly complementary with our Life Sciences business. We believe that combining the skills and knowledge of the two businesses will create significant added value for our customers," says Hogan. "Life Sciences is a key area of growth for GE Healthcare and expanding our skill base and product offerings in this area supports our vision of helping our customers to diagnose and treat disease earlier."

According to a statement, the strategic fit between the two businesses will "offer substantial customer benefits and create significant synergies through complementary product and service offerings."

Ehrenheim points out Whatman's expertise and reputation in filtration technologies and sample preparation is a great fit for the company's Life Sciences business.

"It brings new technologies that are fundamental to helping researchers increase their understanding of the role of genes and proteins in disease," says Ehrenheim "We believe that combining the skills of the two companies will enable GE Healthcare to create strong added value for customers in biomedical and drug discovery research."


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