Life Tech buys Korean distributor as Thermo waits

While Thermo Fisher ($TMO) is busy raising cash to seal its $13.6 billion fate, Life Technologies ($LIFE) is expanding its heft in South Korea, buying up another distributor in the growing market.

Life has purchased Life Science Korea, the company's primary instrument distributor since 1994, for an undisclosed sum. The company held the rights to sell Life's line of gene sequencing technologies, PCR diagnostics products and forensics devices. In April, Life bought KDR Biotech, a Korean distributor of reagents and lab instruments, and the two deals will help Life cash in on a boom in bioscience in the country, Asia-Pacific President Mark Smedley said.

"The acquisition of LSK is in line with our go-direct strategy in South Korea and builds on our current capabilities and platforms in this important market," Smedley said in a statement. "The combination of Life Technologies Korea and LSK--bolstered by our recent acquisition of consumables distributor KDR--enables us to offer one channel to serve the many different needs of our South Korean customers and to create a superior purchasing experience."

Life's plans to buy out its Korean distributors may well have been long-held, as the KDR deal came before Thermo prevailed in a bidding war and signed on to acquire the company for $13.6 billion plus $2.2 billion in debt. Either way, the move falls in line with Life's stated goal of growing revenues by spreading out into growing markets and upping its presence in molecular diagnostics.

When Thermo announced its high-dollar deal, analysts divided over whether Life was worth the price. The company lags behind rival Illumina ($ILMN) in the sequencing market, and its mid-single digit annual grow wasn't much to write home over, but Life and Thermo believe its on the path to spread Ion Torrent's adoption around the world and expand its share of molecular diagnostics.

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