Agilents $2.2B acquisition expands penetration in cancer diagnostics

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Agilent, a developer of biological, chemical and electronic analysis equipment that spun off from Hewlett-Packard in the late 1990s, is planning to buy Danish cancer-diagnostics concern Dako for $2.2 billion, in cash, from its current owner, a Swedish private equity firm called EQT.

Agilent, which reported $6.6 billion in revenues for 2011, reported in a statement that the deal is its biggest ever.

The company’s CEO assured investors that the move was about “strengthening the company’s presence in life science and about revenue growth.”

No particulars were given on new or improved product lines to watch for, although Agilent pointed out that Dako provides antibodies, reagents, scientific instruments and software to customers in pathology laboratories while also collaborating with a number of pharma companies to develop new potential pharmacodiagnostics, also called companion diagnostics, which may be used to identify patients most likely to benefit from a specific targeted therapy.

Dako, which employs around 500 in Denmark and around 300 in the U.S.—220 at its plant in Carpinteria, Calif., and 80 or so sales and service people in the field—reported annual revenue of approximately $340 million in 2010.

The transaction further suggests enduring robust health for the healthcare-technology merger and acquisition market, which continues to defy the protracted slump dogging the global economy.