Danaher’s acquisition of GE Biopharma is a bet on cellular therapies

$21.4-billion acquisition realigns research and manufacturing sourcing


Stockholders of both companies welcomed the news of the acquisition by raising the prices of both stocks—a rough measure that it made sense on both sides of the transaction. Danaher, a $19.9-billion industrial conglomerate—but one with a distinct slant toward life sciences and healthcare—is picking up a major supplier of equipment and consumables for biopharma, including producing the viral vectors that are used to transform cells’ DNA. For GE, said to be going through the worst downturn in its 127-year history, the divestiture shores up its balance sheet; the company had been saying for the past seven months that it was going to undergo some financial realignment of its healthcare businesses, which have been doing well. After the transaction, GE will retain its much larger medical imaging business.

“Today’s transaction is a pivotal milestone. It demonstrates that we are executing on our strategy by taking thoughtful and deliberate action to reduce leverage and strengthen our balance sheet,” said GE Chairman and CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr.

“GE Biopharma is renowned for providing best-in-class bioprocessing technologies and solutions,” said Danaher’s president and CEO, Thomas P. Joyce, Jr. “This acquisition will bring a talented and passionate team as well as a highly innovative, industry-leading product suite to our Life Sciences portfolio, providing an excellent complement to our current biologics workflow solutions.” The transactions represents approximately a 50% increase in the revenues of Danaher’s existing Life Sciences business, which grossed $6.5 billion in 2018. That division includes such brands as Pall, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, SCIEX, Leica Microsystems, Molecular Devices, Phenomenex and IDT businesses. Pharma manufacturers also know one of Danaher’s other businesses, Videojet, a supplier of marking technology used currently to serialize pharma packages in compliance with the Drug Supply Chain and Security Act.