Handy for growth

BD plans to acquire HandyLab to boost its molecular diagnostics offering

Jeffrey Bouley
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FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J.—With an expected closing date in thefirst quarter of 2010, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) recently announcedthe signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Ann Arbor, Mich.-basedHandyLab Inc., which develops and manufactures molecular diagnostic assays andautomation platforms. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The plan to bring HandyLab into BD's fold is "consistentwith BD's stated acquisition strategy" in key areas like oncology and moleculardiagnostics, with an eye toward driving revenue growth through innovation,according to Vincent A. Forlenza, president of BD.
"HandyLab has developed and commercialized a flexibleautomated platform for performing molecular diagnostics which is an idealcomplement to our molecular diagnostics offerings," Forlenza notes. "We believethis new platform enables both our healthcare-associated infections offeringand future expansion into other molecular opportunities."
The acquisition deal builds off a previous deal between thetwo companies, which was announced just under six months earlier, under whichBD had agreed to market some of its pathogen tests using HandyLab's moleculardiagnostic platform. More specifically, BD had said it would market itsmolecular diagnostic assays on a new BD MAX system that, in turn, would useHandylab's Jaguar system. The Jaguar system, which HandyLab launched inNovember 2008, incorporates clinical sample preparation, nucleic acidextraction, microfluidic real-time PCR amplification and detection.
According to Forlenza, the acquisition, if approved, "wouldfurther extend BD's commitment to the novel HandyLab instrumentation technologyto support BD's molecular diagnostics strategy."
BD plans to place its BD GeneOhm molecular assays forMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile andVancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) onto the HandyLab platform and marketthem as the new BD MAX system.
Forlenza says that this novel platform offers muchflexibility, and will allow "further expansion of the BD molecular diagnosticmenu."
Analyst Ken Powell, in a note about the acquisition for GLGGroup, notes that the two companies' earlier marketing deal quickly evolvedinto an acquisition deal, but that it does have a benefit, as it "offers BDseveral advantages over its current infectious disease product offerings andcould enable it to compete against other companies in the hospital acquiredinfection (HAI) space such as Cepheid."
Powell notes that the acquisition does come with somebaggage, as HandyLab is involved in a lawsuit with Caliper Life Sciences, andthe company is seeking court declaration that technology used in its Raider andJaguar systems do not infringe Caliper patents.
Although the companies haven't released financial details, AnnArbor.com in an Oct. 23 article cited unnamed sources in thecompany who have indicated that the deal is worth close to $300 million.
BD would not comment on specific details of the acquisitiondeal with ddn, but BD spokesperson Colleen White is cited in the AnnArbor.comarticle as saying that HandyLab will retain both its local operation in the AnnArbor area as well as its existing management.

Jeffrey Bouley

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