Given Imaging grabs SmartPill Corp. for $6M

Israel's Given Imaging ($GIVN) has snatched up its first acquisition of 2012, buying The SmartPill Corp. for $6 million in cash. While the deal is a small one, it enables the maker of the PillCam endoscopic device to diversify with additional, innovative, GI-related imaging devices. And president and CEO Homi Shamir tells us that other deals are on the horizon.

"We are all the time looking for acquisitions," Shamir told FierceMedicalDevices in a telephone interview from his company's U.S. headquarters in Atlanta. "We have the cash and the resources. We can do it. The only thing we are looking for are acquisitions that are synergistic to our business."

The SmartPill Corp. is based in Buffalo, NY, and employs less than 20 people. Its signature product is the SmartPill GI Monitoring system, which is an ingestible capsule that uses sensor technology. It is FDA-cleared and CE-marked to evaluate conditions such as gastroparesis and constipation. SmartPill is clearly in a compatible space with PillCam, which takes images of the GI tract as it moves through the colon, transmitting them wirelessly in a technique meant to be much less invasive than a standard endoscopy. Shamir said this company, plus two other acquisitions (the Bravo product line from Medtronic and Sierra Scientific) within the last three years, all help Given build a portfolio in functional GI diagnostics well beyond its signature PillCam products. And he said Given's sales team of more than 100 people--out of an 800-employee global workforce--can help boost SmartPill's sales in a major way.

"We can take it to a much stronger market than the way they took it," Shamir said. Additionally, the company plans to invest in subsequent clinical trials, marketing and manufacturing to help propel the product's sales.

Given is certainly doing well enough, though new products will help accelerate revenue more quickly. The company reported $44.5 million in revenue during its fiscal 2012 second quarter, high territory for the company, but about flat compared to the previous year. Net income during the second quarter soared to $3 million, up 49% from the $1.9 million booked the same period last year. As of June 30, Given reported more than $111 million in cash and equivalents on hand, and Shamir noted the company is "debt free."

Shamir added that while Given will continue to eye compatible acquisitions, the company will also focus on its own pipeline of products. Among them: the PillCam Colon 2, a swallowable pill that has a camera on each end and an LED bulb that lights the journey. PillCam Colon 2 is approved in Europe since 2009 and also available in Latin America, Canada and parts of Asia. Given recently filed for regulatory approval in Japan. In the U.S., Given will seek FDA approval to use the device to visualize the colon for patients who can't have or finish a colonoscopy. The initial PillCam model, among other Given products, are on sale in the U.S. market.

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