IRIS opens on diagnostics

Danaher subsidiary acquires diagnostic systems developer IRIS International for $338 million, adding it under Beckman Coulter umbrella

Amy Swinderman
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Continuing its longtime acquisitionstrategy, Danaher Corp. announced on Nov. 1 its purchase of IRIS InternationalInc., a manufacturer of automated in-vitrodiagnostics systems and consumables, for $19.50 per share, or $338 million incash.
 
 
That price tag represented an approximate 45-percent premiumover the closing price of IRIS' common stock on Sept. 14. The tender offer wasmade through Danaher's wholly owned subsidiary, Daphne Acquisition Corp., andbecause it brought Danaher's shares of IRIS to approximately 92 percent, thedeal closed on Oct. 31 without stockholder approval.
 
Although most of Danaher's acquisitions are usually madeunder a certain cloak of obscurity, as the company rarely comments on itspurchases, more is known about this one, as IRIS will be folded into BeckmanCoulter Inc., which Danaher acquired in early 2011.
 
"Beckman Coulter is a leader in lab automation, so the ideaof bringing a fairly automated system into our portfolio just reinforced ourprimary differentiator, which is to help labs become more efficient and enhancetheir manual processes," Mary Luthy, director of corporate communications atBeckman Coulter, tells ddn.
 
 
Founded in 1979, IRIS' portfolio focuses on medicaldiagnostics and sample-processing products. The company invented and introducedthe first automated urinalysis system, and has workstations with the technologyinstalled in major medical institutions throughout the world.
 
"Their biggest complement with Beckman Coulter is theirurinalysis products, both automated and semi-automated," says Luthy.
 
In addition, IRIS' Personalized Medicine subsidiary seeks toenable the advancement of predictive and personalized cancer treatment optionsvia the commercialization of advanced assays based on a proprietary technologyplatform, the Nucleic Acid Detection Immuno-Assay (NADiA). NADiA combines thespecificity of monoclonal antibody capture with the sensitivity of real-timepolymerase chain reaction (qPCR) detection that has the potential to detectproteins with femtogram per milliliter sensitivity. This provides a uniqueopportunity for quantifying extremely low concentrations of tumor markerproteins that are below the detection threshold of current assay methods,according to IRIS.
 
"As Beckman Coulter is a leader in prostate cancerdiagnostics, we find their work in this area promising, but it is still tooearly to talk about any research we might do in this area," Luthy notes.
 
 
At press time, decisions about how the acquisition wouldimpact IRIS' 300-plus employees and facilities were still being made, accordingto Luthy. IRIS has locations stateside in Chatsworth and Carlsbad, Calif. andWestwood, Mass., as well as facilities abroad in France, Germany and the UnitedKingdom.
 
 
"There is no intent to physically move anybody, but ourreporting structure is still being determined as part of our integrationplanning," Luthy adds.
 
IRIS did not respond to requests for comment.

Amy Swinderman

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