‘Viral’ news: Thermo Fisher buys Dutch firm that tests for coronavirus in $11.5 billion deal

March 4, 2020

Thermo Fisher Scientific is buying the Dutch diagnostics company Qiagen in an $11.5 billion deal that expands the Waltham, Massachusetts-based laboratory equipment firm’s ability to detect infectious diseases, including the new coronavirus, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

Qiagen said last week it had shipped a newly developed test kit to detect the virus that causes Covid-19 to four hospitals in Chinam, the news outlet notes. The company—based in Vento, in the southeastern Netherlands, a couple of miles from the German border—says the kit can distinguish the novel coronavirus from 21 pathogens that cause serious respiratory disease and delivers results in about an hour.

Qiagen also is in the process of shipping the kits to Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Thermo Fisher CEO Marc Casper said the deal—announced early Tuesday morning, March 3—will help his company broaden its business, from scientific discovery to diagnostics.

“This acquisition provides us with the opportunity to leverage our industry-leading capabilities and R&D expertise to accelerate innovation and address emerging healthcare needs,” Casper, who has been CEO since 2009, told the Globe.

Several investment analysts applauded the acquisition.

“We think the deal is a home run” for Thermo Fisher, Vijay Kumar, director, Equity Research, of Evercore in New York, wrote investors. “The assets fit well together and make strategic sense and we think there is scope for meaningful synergies over time. ”

Thermo Fisher approached Qiagen in November about a potential purchase, which prompted the latter’s shares to rise 13%—the biggest jump in 17 years, The Globe reports. But the deal wasn’t consummated until more than a month later.

“After the Christmas drama”—Qiagen had to issue a press release saying that the negotiations had halted— both companies “were finally able to hash it out and close the deal,” Kumar wrote.

The transaction values Qiagen at about $11.5 billion at current exchange rates, which includes the assumption of roughly $1.4 billion of net debt. The deal represents a premium of about 23% to the closing price of Qiagen’s common stock Monday on the Frankfurt Prime Standard.

Thermo Fisher is the most valuable company based in Massachusetts, with a market capitalization of more than $121 billion. Thermo Fisher’s share price rose more than 5% on the Nasdaq exchange Tuesday morning.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

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