Techne acquires chemical analysis firm ProteinSimple for $300 million

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 18, 2014 - 11:27 AM

The deal will complement Techne’s protein and antibody manufacturing operations.

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Elsa Harvey packed bottles on the R&D Systems bottling line of wash buffer, part of a product line of R&D Systems' parent company Techne.

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Techne Corp. said Tuesday it has acquired privately owned ProteinSimple, a chemical analysis firm, for $300 million in cash.

Techne is a 790-employee Minneapolis biotechnology firm that does business under the name Bio-Techne. The company develops and manufactures purified proteins and antibodies for research laboratories run by universities, the National Institutes of Health, pharmaceutical firms and biotech companies.

Since Charles Kummeth became Techne’s chief executive in April 2013, the company has made a series of acquisitions and investments to solidify its position in the laboratory market. ProteinSimple, based in Santa Clara, Calif., provides products for laboratory analysis of proteins.

“We view this acquisition as a natural fit to Bio-Techne’s product line,” Kummeth said in a statement.

Techne said its acquisition of ProteinSimple is not subject to any financing contingencies and is expected to close about July 31.

Kummeth’s acquisition strategy has been a dramatic shift for the company, which under his predecessor, Thomas Oland, accumulated about $270 million in cash. When Oland retired in late 2012, Techne’s board disregarded his recommendation that the company’s CFO, Gregory Melsen, be named his successor. Instead, it picked Kummeth.

“He’s been pretty aggressive about taking cash that had been sitting on the balance sheet for some time and putting it to work,” said Andy Adams, a portfolio manager at mutual fund manager Mairs and Power Inc. of St. Paul, which owns 2.69 percent of Techne’s stock.

Adams said the pace of Techne acquisitions is likely to slow now, because much of the company’s cash has been used for the acquisitions of ProteinSimple (the $300 million is a combination of cash on hand and bank borrowing), PrimeGene Bio-Tech Co. (no terms disclosed) and Bio­nostics ($104 million), and a $10 million investment in CyVek Inc.

Both the ProteinSimple and CyVek deals help Techne offer equipment that speeds the laboratory tests that use Techne’s chemical products, Adams said. “They provide a little more value-add.”

That should help Techne’s business, which has struggled in recent years when government funding for research declined and the pharmaceutical industry consolidated, Adams said.

In fiscal 2013, Techne earned $112.6 million on revenue of $310.6 million, but its profits have been flat for the past three years. Over the last year, however, Techne’s stock has risen 35 percent.

Following the announcement of the ProteinSimple acquisition, Techne’s stock closed Tuesday at $90.55, up $1.83, or 2.1 percent.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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