Amersham acquisition makes GE Healthcare a $14 billion company
General Electric Co. (GE) on April 8 completed its acquisition of medical imaging agent and life sciences firm Amersham plc for $9.5 billion.

With the addition of Amersham, GE Healthcare - formerly GE Medical Systems (GEMS) - becomes a $14 billion business, with anticipated revenues of $16 billion in 2005.

On the management side, GE named Sir William Castell, formerly chief executive of Amersham, as president and CEO of GE Healthcare. GEMS President and CEO Joseph M. Hogan will lead the $11 billion medical imaging, services and IT businesses -- now known as GE Healthcare Technologies - as president and CEO. Peter Loescher, former Amersham COO, will manage the newly created $3 billion GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences business, as president and CEO. GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences will consist of the former Amersham operating units. Hogan and Loescher will report directly to Castell.

GE Healthcare's global headquarters will be in Chalfont St. Giles, United Kingdom, while GE Healthcare Technologies will remain in GEMS' home of Waukesha, Wis. GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences' headquarters will be in Little Chalfont, U.K.

"A big part" of the decision to locate GE Healthcare headquarters in the United Kingdom, Hogan told Health Imaging News, is to recognize that GE Healthcare "is a global business. More than 50 percent of our employees will live and work outside of the United States. From a key corporate standpoint, it makes sense to put a corporate headquarters outside of the United States."

GE Healthcare will have an annual R&D budget in the range of $1 billion and some 42,000 employees worldwide.

GE Healthcare believes the addition of Amersham will bolster the company's position in medical imaging, diagnostic pharmaceuticals and drug discovery. GE Healthcare also believes the new entity will help accelerate the development of molecular imaging and personalized medicine by developing and bringing to market new targeted imaging agents and diagnostics to diagnose, treat and monitor diseases at an earlier stage.

"Cancer, heart disease and neurology will be the three key areas that we will focus this technology around," added Hogan. "Our goal is to partner with pharmaceutical companies and other therapeutic companies to help treat the disease and provide information in the feedback loop for the efficacy of that particular treatment."

Dan Peters, acting COO of medical diagnostics for GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences, sees molecular imaging as one key component to advancing personalized medicine and enhancing patient care.

"We see [molecular imaging] as the next real threshold as how we do invivo diagnostic imaging," said Peters. "We think molecular imaging will take us to the next level of seeing diseases, either as they are forming or potentially to see the disease condition and pre-disposition for disease to take place."

He cited Amersham's current work with a product to diagnose Alzheimer's disease. The product binds to the molecular structure of amyloid plaque and starts to identify presence in the brain to allow more effective therapeutic intervention at a later time.