Deal value: $825 million
Announced: Oct. 21, 2019
Closed: April 30, 2020
Leading our top 10, GE’s $21.4 billion transfer of its biopharma business to Danaher also came with a caveat: The latter must give up its previous products for the research and development of cell therapies, including filtering and liquid chromatography hardware.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Danaher and GE Healthcare also represented the two largest global suppliers of microcarrier beads—small particles a few hundred microns across, which provide a surface for suspended cells to latch onto and grow.
Those businesses were officially transferred to Sartorius, the German lab equipment manufacturer, one month after the closure of GE and Danaher’s deal. Totaling $825 million, it weighs in at about 1/25th of that megamerger’s value, but it’s a deal still large enough to come in seventh on our list for the year.
The price tag was originally set at $750 million, but the deal was later expanded to include the rights to single-use, tangential flow filtration systems and kits, as well as stainless-steel, hollow-fiber filtration systems, which tacked on an additional $75 million to the bill.
Together, the businesses had combined sales of about $140 million in 2018 and double-digit profit margins, backed by 300 employees worldwide—including label-free biomolecular characterization products under the FortéBio brand, making up about half of the deal.
“With the Octet platform of FortéBio, we will add a broadly accepted and differentiated technology for advancing and simplifying drug discovery to our lab division’s portfolio,” Sartorius CEO Joachim Kreuzburg said during the deal’s announcement. “The chromatography hardware and resins and the microcarrier businesses broaden our strong bioprocessing offering, particularly in the downstream area.”
Over the remainder of 2020, the company’s bioprocess solutions division saw sharp rises in sales and earnings—up 34.4% to €1.78 billion, or $2.10 billion—as the world called upon these technologies to help produce vaccines for COVID-19.
For 2021, Sartorius’ executive board expects the division’s sales to grow between 22% and 28%, with up to eight percentage points coming from the pandemic alone, and more from pent-up demand in the biopharma industry for other therapies.