On Our Radar: Deals we are paying attention to for their impact on industry.
Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world’s biggest manufacturer of scientific instruments, bid for Brammer Bio LLC on March 24 in a $1.7 billion cash deal. The move would give the diagnostic and testing equipment giant Thermo Fisher a vital stake and major capabilities in the fast-growing gene and cell therapy market.
The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter this year.
Cambridge, Mass.-based Brammer Bio is a leading maker of viral vectors for cell and gene therapies used in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Brammer Bio’s services enable biopharma customers to create gene therapies and gene-modified cell therapies that provide advanced medicines to patients.
The $1 billion gene therapy market, which is still in the early stages of commercialization, is projected to grow 25% a year, according to Brammer Bio estimates. The company is expected to have above-market growth, according to Thermo Fisher. Overall, the gene therapy market is projected to exceed $4 billion by 2023, up from $584 million in 2016, according to an Allied Market Research report.
The transaction is the second-largest acquisition by Thermo Fisher this year. The Brammer Bio deal creates a business combination that could enable greater economies of scale and better access to capital. That, in turn, could lead to cheaper production costs for gene therapy, which can be used to treat everything from hemophilia and sickle cell anemia to rare eye diseases.
“Gene therapy is an area of increasing focus for our customers and is fast evolving, given its potential to treat a range of genetic disorders,” Thermo Fisher President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Casper said in a press release announcing the acquisition. Casper added that the deal spells growth for the company in a dynamic market.
Analysts at R.W. Baird hailed the move.
“We like the deal and view this high-growth asset as an attractive way for TMO to continue to strengthen and or add capabilities to its pharma services business,” Baird analysts Catherine Schulte and Thomas Peterson wrote in their March 26 note about the deal. They added they believe TMO’s core business will have a strong 2019 and that they expect more mergers and acquisitions from the company this year.
The Thermo Fisher-Brammer deal is just the latest coupling among pharma and biotech firms elbowing for room in the hot gene therapy market. In the last two months, competition has intensified as pharma and biotech firms snap up gene therapy players in a field that’s seeing increased research and clinical progress.
As an example, Roche bought Spark Therapeutics for $4.8 billion in February. Earlier this month, Biogen paid $800 million for Nightstar Therapeutics, while Pfizer acquired a 15% stake in Vivet Therapeutics, a gene therapy biotech firm in Paris.
In 2018, Thermo Fisher invested $1 billion in research and development. It recently introduced a bevy of products, software and services for companies in biopharma, food safety, environmental quality and industrial application at the 2019 Pittcon Conference and Exhibition in Philadelphia.
Founded in 1956, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher has more than $24 billion in annual revenue and employs over 70,000 worldwide. It also has in excess of 400,000 customers in 150 countries. By contrast, Brammer, founded and owned by private equity firm Ampersand Capital Partners, has nearly 600 employees in Massachusetts and Florida and is projected to have generated some $250 million in revenue this year.
Tammy Joyner is an Atlanta-based journalist who writes about business, the workplace and socioeconomic issues. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour Magazine and other publications.