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January 16, 2014

China OKs Thermo-Life Tech Deal, But With Conditions

  • Thermo Fisher Scientific has won approval from Chinese officials for its planned acquisition of Life Technologies for $13.6 billion, plus assumption of $2.2 billion in the acquired company’s debt—subject to Thermo shedding its cell culture unit and discounting prices of some products and ensuring Chinese dealers get the discounts.

    The conditions are mostly in line with those already agreed to by Thermo, which earlier this month said it agreed to sell to GE Healthcare its cell culture media business, as well as its sera, gene modulation technologies, and magnetic beads unit, for a combined $1.06 billion. Thermo agreed to sell the businesses in November in return for winning approval of the Life Technologies deal by the European Commission.

    China’s Ministry of Commerce confirmed the approval yesterday in a statement posted on the Chinese-language version of its website. The statement cited Thermo’s concentration in five key business-product segments—cell culture products; sequence-specific primers technique (SSP) kits; sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE); and small protein standards interfering RNA (siRNA) reagents—and undisclosed “other markets.”

    “The Ministry of Commerce believes that the transaction in cell culture products, SSP kits, SDS-PAGE protein standards, and siRNA reagents market may eliminate or restrict competition,” the agency stated, according to a translation of that statement via Google Translate.

    The statement added that Thermo “shall fulfill the following obligations” in return for approval of its Life Technologies deal:

    • Sell its global cell culture business while ensuring the viability and competitiveness of the divested business, and of the tangible and intangible assets required for the sale.
    • Sell its 51% stake in China's Lanzhou China Sea Biological Engineering, a Chinese-U.S. joint venture focused on bioengineering.
    • Sell off its global gene business, while ensuring the viability and competitiveness of the divested business, and of the tangible and intangible assets required for the sale.
    • Reduce by 1% annually, for the next 10 years, the catalog prices of SDS-PAGE protein standards in the Chinese market, while not reducing the discounts given to Chinese dealers.
    • Reduce annually, over the next 10 years, the prices of SSP kits and SDS-PAGE protein standards with respect to third parties, based on the OEM supply mode, while allowing use of SDS-PAGE protein standards through perpetual nonexclusive technology licensing.
  • Finally! A cure for the Biotech News Blues.

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