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Handy for growth
December 2009
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J.óWith an expected closing date in the first quarter of 2010, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) recently announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Ann Arbor, Mich.-based HandyLab Inc., which develops and manufactures molecular diagnostic assays and automation platforms. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.  
 
The plan to bring HandyLab into BD's fold is "consistent with BD's stated acquisition strategy" in key areas like oncology and molecular diagnostics, with an eye toward driving revenue growth through innovation, according to Vincent A. Forlenza, president of BD.  
 
"HandyLab has developed and commercialized a flexible automated platform for performing molecular diagnostics which is an ideal complement to our molecular diagnostics offerings," Forlenza notes. "We believe this new platform enables both our healthcare-associated infections offering and future expansion into other molecular opportunities."  
 
The acquisition deal builds off a previous deal between the two companies, which was announced just under six months earlier, under which BD had agreed to market some of its pathogen tests using HandyLab's molecular diagnostic platform. More specifically, BD had said it would market its molecular diagnostic assays on a new BD MAX system that, in turn, would use Handylab's Jaguar system. The Jaguar system, which HandyLab launched in November 2008, incorporates clinical sample preparation, nucleic acid extraction, microfluidic real-time PCR amplification and detection.
 
According to Forlenza, the acquisition, if approved, "would further extend BD's commitment to the novel HandyLab instrumentation technology to support BD's molecular diagnostics strategy."  
 
BD plans to place its BD GeneOhm molecular assays for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) onto the HandyLab platform and market them as the new BD MAX system.  
 
Forlenza says that this novel platform offers much flexibility, and will allow "further expansion of the BD molecular diagnostic menu."  
 
Analyst Ken Powell, in a note about the acquisition for GLG Group, notes that the two companies' earlier marketing deal quickly evolved into an acquisition deal, but that it does have a benefit, as it "offers BD several advantages over its current infectious disease product offerings and could enable it to compete against other companies in the hospital acquired infection (HAI) space such as Cepheid."  
 
Powell notes that the acquisition does come with some baggage, as HandyLab is involved in a lawsuit with Caliper Life Sciences, and the company is seeking court declaration that technology used in its Raider and Jaguar 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 the company who have indicated that the deal is worth close to $300 million.
 
BD would not comment on specific details of the acquisition deal with ddn, but BD spokesperson Colleen White is cited in the AnnArbor.com article as saying that HandyLab will retain both its local operation in the Ann Arbor area as well as its existing management.
 
Code: E120913

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