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M&A Report: Fewer Deals, Higher Impact

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Essential, Industry Buzz-lir, Laboratory Industry Report

Continuing recent patterns, M&A deal-making in the diagnostics space was low in volume but high in impact in October.

Continuing recent patterns, M&A deal-making in the diagnostics space was low in volume but high in impact in October. Here’s a quick briefing of the three top stories you need to be aware of.

1. AstraZeneca to Acquire LogicBio at Bargain Price

While not quite shocking, AstraZeneca’s acquisition of LogicBio Therapeutics was the biggest eyebrow-raiser of the month. Spun out in 2014, LogicBio seemed headed to big success in developing new genetic therapies for rare pediatric diseases. In October 2021, LogicBio lit up the stock market by announcing favorable results in its Phase I/II clinical trial supporting the first-ever use of nuclease-free genome editing technology in children. But four months later, the bottom fell out when the company announced that the FDA had placed the trial on hold after two of the four patients suffered adverse events after being dosed with the therapy. Although the FDA gave the green light to resume in May 2022, the setback, combined with the bear market for biotech, drove LogicBio’s stock down 94 percent to 27 cents per share.

Recognizing the opportunity to buy low, pharma giant AstraZeneca swooped in to acquire 100 percent of the company’s shares at $2.07 a pop, a 666 percent premium over the previous day’s closing price but still a bargain considering how much LogicBio stock used to trade for. The rock-bottom price belies the deal’s impact. AstraZeneca’s Alexion rare disease unit will now acquire a pair of LogicBio genetic therapy technology platforms—the sAAVy platform for adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid technologies and the GeneRide platform harnessing homologous recombination for precise gene integration—putting it on the fast track to success in novel genomic medicine development. LogicBio also offers its manufacturing process, mAAVRx, aimed at improving yields and product quality in the development of AAV-based therapies.

2. DiaCarta Brings Back the SPAC

Two years ago, it was the hottest thing in the biotech and digital health market. Rather than deal with the regulatory hassles of an initial public offering (IPO), startups would team with institutional investors to form publicly traded shell companies called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). The SPAC’s mission: Raise capital on the public exchanges while seeking the best merger target available. At that point, the SPAC would merge with the target and the new entity would continue to raise capital.

While regulatory developments and the overall poor market have significantly slowed SPAC activity in recent months, deals are still getting done. (See, “The Craze Is Over but Healthcare SPAC Deals Remain Alive and Well,” LIR, April 6, 2022). And on Oct. 14, DiaCarta announced its plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange by merging with a SPAC called HH&L Acquisition. Valuated at $460 million pre-investment on a fully diluted basis, the deal will secure DiaCarta access to the roughly $414 million in cash that HH&L raised from its IPO. The capital will enable the molecular diagnostics firm to “further invest in our technology and support pipeline growth,” noted DiaCarta founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Aiguo Zhang in a statement.

3. Stem Cell Firms Announce Plans to Merge

On Oct. 6, a trio of diagnostic and cell therapy firms announced plans to merge into a single company to furnish induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-related products and services. Pending shareholder approval, Pluristyx, PanCELLa, and Implant Therapeutics will form a new company to operate under the Pluristyx name. PanCELLa and its current subsidiary, Implant Therapeutics, will then become a wholly owned subsidiary of the new firm.

The formidable combination of stem cell assets positions the new firm to become a powerhouse in the iPSC and cell therapy market. “We can now provide a full suite of tools and provide the fastest path to gene-edited iPSC-based therapies,” Pluristyx CEO Benjamin Fryer said in a statement.


Here’s a summary of the other key M&A diagnostic deals that were signed or closed in October 2022:

Mergers, Acquisitions, & Asset Sales

Acquiring CompanyTarget(s)Deal Summary
AvactaLaunch Diagnostics• Price: Up to £37 million ($41.9 million), including £24 million in cash upfront + £13 million based on future business performance milestones
• Status: Signed acquisition agreement with no closing date announced
• UK cancer immunotherapies and diagnostics firm to acquire UK distributor with 70 staffers and nearly £33.0 million in 2021 revenues
Eurobio ScientificGenome Diagnostics• Price: €135 million ($137.2 million) cash
• Status: Closed
• French firm acquires provider of molecular diagnostic assays and software for transplantation, including products for human leukocyte antigen and killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor typing
• GenDx to continue to operate at its Dutch headquarters and North American office in Chicago, and keep its existing sales and global distribution network
Beckman Coulter Diagnostics (subsidiary of Danaher)StoCastic• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• Acquisition of informatics startup and developer of AI-based clinical decision support for hospital emergency departments comes one month after acquisition of ValitaCell Ltd., an Irish biotech that creates analytical products and technologies for the biopharma industry
Laboratory Corporation of AmericaAscension• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• Labcorp acquires part of nonprofit Catholic healthcare system’s outreach business as part of long-term lab services agreement under which Labcorp will manage Ascension hospital labs in Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin
Quest DiagnosticsSumma Health• Price: Undisclosed all cash deal
• Status: Signed agreement with no closing date announced
• Quest to acquire Ohio-based healthcare system’s outreach lab services business, called LabCare Plus
• Quest labs in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Pittsburgh to provide testing for LabCare Plus clients, while Summa Health continues to wholly own and operate its own hospital labs
Ginkgo BioworksCircularis• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• Acquisition of producer of platform that uses circularized RNA to screen for promoters and other enhancers bolsters Ginkgo's own platform for development of cell and gene therapies
Ginkgo BioworksAltar• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• Acquisition of producer of French firm that makes instruments for automated adaptive evolution of microorganisms bolsters Gingko’s synthetic biology business
Patients Choice Laboratories (PCL)Infinity Laboratories• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• Acquisition of Texas-based infectious disease lab specializing in molecular diagnostics establishes PCL’s presence in southern US market
Clinical MicrobiomicsMS-Omics• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• Acquisition of metabolomics company gives Danish microbiome profiling firm expertise in metabolite profiling and bolsters its systems biology platform
SebiaZeus Scientific• Price: Undisclosed
• Status: Closed
• French specialty diagnostics firm boosts US presence and autoimmunity capabilities by acquiring developer of immunoassays and related products for infectious and autoimmune diseases
AstraZenecaLogicBio Therapeutics• Price: $2.07 per share, representing a 666% premium over previous day’s closing price
• Status: Expected to close in October or November
• Acquisition of struggling biotech at rock bottom prices gives pharma giant the platforms and expertise it needs to take the fast track into prominence in the genomic medicine market

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