Stealth robotic surgery player Auris to buy minimally invasive micro-cap Hansen for $80M

Magellan transport system--Courtesy of Hansen Medical

Speculation on major competitors becoming established in the tantalizing, yet often controversial, field of robotic surgery has run rampant in recent months. The picture just got a little clearer as Auris Surgical Robotics said it will buy minimally invasive robotic surgery company Hansen Medical in a deal valued at about $80 million.

This puts Auris in a spot to capitalize on the coalescence of two major industry trends--robotic surgery and transcatheter, minimally invasive surgical procedures.

Intuitive Surgical ($ISRG) has long dominated robotic surgery--and it's also borne the brunt of controversy as researchers sought to sort out the safety of robotic-assisted procedures. The lack of adequate training for the surgeons who guide them has emerged as an issue time and again for these sophisticated systems.

Despite all the difficulties along the way, Intuitive Surgical has grown into a roughly $25 billion company since its IPO in 2000. Others are seeking to cash in on what's grown into a lucrative field, and the FDA held a meeting last summer to address the regulatory issues raised by new robotic surgery entrants.

Auris Surgical Robotics first entered the fray last fall, when it filed an SEC filing disclosing a $150 million financing. It's the fourth robotic surgery co-founded by Dr. Frederic Moll--who was a founder of Intuitive Surgical. Not coincidentally, Auris' Moll also founded Hansen Medical in 2002. It had its own IPO in 2006 under Moll's direction, but never gained traction.

Existing Auris investors invested another $49 million into Auris on the deal, bringing its total raised to roughly $235 million, according to SEC filings. Its investors include Peter Thiel-backed Mithril Capital, as well as Lux Capital.

Magellan robotic system--Courtesy of Hansen Medical

"Hansen Medical has developed a technology leadership position in the field of intravascular robotics," said Auris CEO Moll in a statement. "There remains a significant opportunity in flexible robotics and I am excited to combine with Hansen Medical to advance this market."

Notably, last December omnipresent Google parent Alphabet ($GOOG) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) formed a robotic surgery joint venture, Verb Surgical.

Auris aims to combine medical robotics, instrumentation, navigation and data science to create a robotic surgery platform. Hansen is focused on intravascular robotics, which involve the manipulation of catheters and catheter-based tech. It markets the Magellan Robotic System as well as associated catheters and accessories. Magellan specifically targets the peripheral vasculature as a means for placing therapeutic devices in cardiac arrhythmia and endovascular procedures.

The $4 share price offer for Hansen is about a 40% premium to the close prior to the offer disclosure. The deal is slated to close in mid-2016.

- here is the announcement