Life Tech snags Korean reagents outfit amid bidding war

Life Technologies ($LIFE) is fielding buyout offers from a competitor and a group of private equity giants, but that hasn't stopped the company from making acquisitions of its own, now snatching up a Korean distributor of reagents and lab instruments.

Life has bought KDR Biotech for an undisclosed sum, planning to roll the company's employees and product line into its Asian operation. The Seoul-based outfit distributes equipment and reagents for cell culture, molecular biology and immunology, and Life is counting on its know-how to expand the company's presence in the fast-growing South Korean market, Asia-Pacific President Mark Smedley said in a statement.

All the while, Life toils in a swirl of buyout rumors. The latest: Thermo Fisher Scientific ($TMO) has bid between $11 billion and $12 billion to acquire the company, and a private equity team led by Blackstone and Carlyle came in after deadline with a smaller offer. Now it's up to Life, its board and shareholders to pick their next owners.

Back in January, when Life first announced it was considering going up for sale, analysts guessed at an asking price as high as $15 billion, but the resultant hard look from suitors has driven bids down to the $11 billion neighborhood.

That slide in valuation could be because Life's annual sales growth tends to hover in the mid-single digits, but the company is hardly resting on its laurels, and this latest acquisition is part of Life's efforts to expand in Asia and broaden its diagnostics offerings. Last month, the company won Chinese approval for its 3500xL Dx Genetic Analyzer, used in clinical diagnostics, and it continues to launch gene sequencers around the globe for lab and point-of-care tests.

- read Life Technologies' announcement

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