MINNEAPOLIS—Molecular diagnostics and sample prep giant Qiagen N.V. closed on its purchase nucleic acid purification products company Gentra Systems Inc., based here, in an all cash deal worth approximately $38 million. The deal effectively buys out a competitor in a niche where Qiagen had struggled to develop a significant market for its own products, namely the nucleic acid purification of larger blood samples up to 10 mL.
"Purifying larger volume samples is important in both biobanking and for archiving DNA," says Cheri Walker, VP of mergers and acquisitions for Qiagen. "We do have a product in this area that has never taken off, but Gentra has done very well and has a very strong following."
For Gentra Systems, which is expected to rack up nearly $6 million in revenue in the second half of the year, the opportunity to sell to Qiagen came as the company was beginning to look for partners who could help it gain a wider distribution for its products. "We were looking for a broader base from which to conduct business," says Ruth Shuman, founder and CEO of Gentra. "Being acquired by Qiagen affords us a much greater market and distribution opportunity. With their marketing and geographic reach, we think the combined companies can accelerate getting our products to more customers worldwide."
Walker echoes that sentiment, noting that Gentra's sales strength was as a direct channel in the North American market. Opportunities to increase sales are especially strong in Europe and in the burgeoning Asian market, areas where Gentra sold through distribution, and in the case of Asia, had very little market penetration.
"We think that we can we can do at least $14 million in revenue in 2007," Walker says. "There is a good opportunity for us to grow this business in the double digits going forward and that is driven not only by going into some of these new geographies but also the fact that biobanking is growing, so both of those drivers make this a nice business."
The acquisition brings to Qiagen four recognizable consumable brands in this well defined niche: Puregene consumable for DNA isolation; Versagene consumables for RNA and DNA isolation in a single-column 96-well format; Generation comsumables, which include fast systems for DNA purification for direct use in amplification techniques; and Purescript, a consumable line for isolating RNA from different sources. It also acquires two automation platforms–Autopure for large-scale blood DNA purification and Autotech for smaller samples and lower throughput.
Plans are not yet finalized that will determine whether Qiagen will continue to operate the Gentra facility or what affect the integration will have on Gentra's 80 or so employees. But Walker is quick to point out that this was not merely a technology acquisition.