Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. BIO.B -11.80% is in talks to combine with fellow life-sciences company Qiagen QGEN 3.18% NV in a deal that would be worth more than $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
The talks have been going on for a while but any agreement isn’t likely for another few weeks or more—and there may not be one.
Qiagen had a market value of nearly $10 billion as of Monday’s close. Bio-Rad’s market value was $11.6 billion after its class A common shares fell 8.4% to $392.95 following The Wall Street Journal’s report on the deal talks.
A deal between Qiagen and Bio-Rad would be the latest tie-up in the medical-diagnostic market, which has grown as the pandemic helped increase demand for testing. Last year, Illumina Inc. paid more than $7 billion for Grail, which sells blood tests for detecting cancer, a market potentially worth $50 billion worldwide.
The Federal Trade Commission moved to block that deal, claiming that it would harm competition in an emerging field of tests for early-stage detection of multiple types of cancers. An administrative law judge ultimately ruled in Illumina’s favor.
Hercules, Calif.-based Bio-Rad makes products for life-science research and clinical diagnostics. Its customers include university and research institutions, hospitals, public-health and commercial laboratories and biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. The company, which employs about 7,900 people, had revenue of $2.9 billion in 2021, according to its website.
A Netherlands-based holding company with headquarters in Hilden, Germany, and Germantown, Md., Qiagen has developed technologies that isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from blood, tissue and other materials. The company has more than 500,000 customers and employs more than 6,100 people in over 35 locations worldwide.
Qiagen was going to be bought by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for about $10 billion in 2020. It subsequently sweetened the bid but terminated the agreement after failing to get shareholder approval. Activist investor Davidson Kempner Capital Management led the charge against the deal, arguing that it undervalued Qiagen.
Should the latest merger talks bear fruit, it would be one of the biggest transactions in recent months. Rising interest rates and rampant inflation have caused valuations to plummet and financing to freeze up, leading to a dry spell for deal-making.
Last year, by contrast, nearly $6 trillion of transactions were struck globally, almost half of that in the U.S., as cheap debt, free-flowing government stimulus and looming tax changes spurred a shopping spree for acquirers. In addition to higher borrowing costs, lack of clarity about the direction of the economy and markets and fear of a tougher antitrust regime have contributed to the recent downturn.
Healthcare, which many view as more recession resistant than other sectors, has remained relatively active as companies seek combinations that will give them scale and help them compete in a changing marketplace.
Primary-care provider Cano Health Inc., for example, is attracting interest from major industry players including Humana Inc. and CVS Health Corp. , just a month after CVS agreed to buy home-health provider Signify Health Inc. for some $8 billion.
—Jonathan D. Rockoff contributed to this article.
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