BGI clears hurdle in buyout of Complete Genomics
BGI-Shenzhen nailed down U.S. government approval for its controversial buyout of Complete Genomics ($GNOM), which would expand the Chinese sequencing powerhouse's technological capabilities in the competitive business of decoding DNA for medicine and agriculture. The company revealed the win over the weekend.
This might be an unwelcome development for Illumina ($ILMN), the largest provider of DNA sequencers in the world. Illumina has hotly contested BGI's purchase of financially strapped Complete, offered to marginally top BGI's bid for its Mountain View, CA, competitor, and has hired lobbyists to drum up opposition to the BGI deal on Capitol Hill, as The New York Times reported.
As the Times' Andrew Pollack points out, Illumina has stoked concerns about potential--and what some interpret as unlikely--threats to U.S. national security as a result of the Chinese firm's takeover of Complete. And its fight against the deal strikes nationalistic tones, including keeping sequencing secrets in U.S. hands, which clash with the international spirit of the Human Genome Project to map the code of life.
BGI, formerly known as Beijing Genomics Institute, was an active player in the Human Genome Project. It's expanded in the U.S. and Europe with new offices and collaborations with Western pharma companies, top hospitals and academics. Yet the firm primarily acts as a service provider, relying on machines from Illumina and others to sequence genomes for customers.
A key to the Complete Genomics deal is that BGI would acquire technology for sequencing genomes, which could make the company less dependent on other companies for sequencing tech.
With the recent clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the acquisition still needs an OK from the Federal Trade Commission, Pollack reported.