Pall aims for ForteBio to extend capabilities in $1B+ biopharma process monitoring market

Deal could also mean a boost in Pall's position in the protein research market, in which is also seeks a stronger presence

Jeffrey Bouley
PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.—PallCorp., a global provider of filtration, separation andpurification products, has announced a definitive merger agreementunder which it is to acquire Menlo Park, Calif.,-based ForteBio Inc., a provider of advanced analytical systemsthat accelerate the discovery and development of biotech drugs. The transactionis expected to close by February of 2012; terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pall is looking to extend its capabilities inthe more than $1 billion biopharmaceuticals process monitoring market and inthe protein research market, and it expects to see gains in both areas with the addition of ForteBio'slabel-free protein analysis instruments. Calling those products "an ideal complement to Pall's existingmicrobiological monitoring platforms," Pall notes that ForteBio's portfolio of analyticalsolutions allows researchers to measure proteins in real time without the aidof fluorescent, radio or calorimetric labels or markers that can contaminatesamples, thus enabling easier, faster and better characterizationof drug candidates—all with an eye toward improving process development and speeding timeto market.

"Demand for label-free proteinanalysis continues to intensify and through the merger we now can bring theadvantages of ForteBio systems to a wider range of customers," notes Dr. Joseph D.Keegan, ForteBio's CEO and president, adding that Pall's strong global sales channel willextend the reach of ForteBio instruments "and better position us to capitalizeon opportunities in emerging regions in Europe and Asia."

ForteBio's original Octet family of products isbased on the company's proprietary BioLayer Interferometry (BLI) technology. Itincorporates disposable optical Dip and Read biosensors that measure multipleinteractions in parallel, without the use of detection agents. Forsingle-sample analysis, ForteBio recently launched its BLItz platform. According to the companies, the newplatform "revolutionizes" the use of label-free protein analysis by making itmore accessible and cost-effective for individual bench scientists andresearchers. 
 
"We are thrilled about the acquisition of ForteBioand the added value it enables Pall to bring to customers," says LarryKingsley, Pall's CEO and president. "BioPharmaceuticals continues to be theengine of our life sciences business and an important long-term growthaccelerator. The addition of ForteBio's platforms into our business reinforcesPall's commitment to helping customers get their life-changing products tomarket safely and on time."
  
  

Upon closing, ForteBio will become a wholly-ownedsubsidiary of Pall Corp. In the short term, the impact to Pall's results ofoperations will be immaterial, according to Kingsley.
 
In a recent investor's note, Zacks Investment Research agrees that ForteBio's collection of analytical solutions complements Pall'sexisting microbiological monitoring platforms and notes that Pall's BioPharmaceuticals offering from its life sciences business will be boosted through the add-ons from ForteBio,thus better serving its customers.
 
Adding some words of caution though, Zacks notes that Pall derives a major portion of its revenue from outsidethe United States and points out that the company's operating results may be materially affected bychanges in foreign currency rates. Furthermore, Pall Corp. has a number oflongstanding cost reduction and gross margin improvement initiatives. "Unexpected delays or other factors could impact the company's ability torealize the anticipated savings while improving its financialperformance," Zacks notes, adding that "We currently maintain our 'Neutral' rating on Pall Corp. for thelong term, with a Zacks #2 Rank (short-term 'Buy' recommendation) over thenext one to three months."

News of the acquisition plans came shortly after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services indicated it mightupgrade Pall from its triple-B rating (two steps above junk territory) if the company continues to show continued good performance, citing solid credit metrics and goodoperating performance. Analyst Dan Picciotto told the Wall Street Journal that the filtration,separation, and purification industry has generally good prospects,with growth that he expected to exceed the rate of U.S. gross domestic product.  
 

Jeffrey Bouley

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