Swiss drugmaker Roche to buy COVID-19 test manufacturer GenMark for $1.8bn

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Switzerland-based multinational healthcare company Roche Holding has agreed to buy GenMark Diagnostics for about $1.8 billion to obtain the provider of fast tests for infectious diseases like COVID-19.

As per the statement from the Swiss drugmaker, it will pay $24.05 a share in cash, which is 30 percent more than last week’s closing price. The boards of both companies have approved the transaction. The deal is Roche’s largest since the takeover of Spark Therapeutics in 2019.

The tests of GenMark can discover multiple pathogens from a single patient sample. The pandemic has increased the demand for tests that can swiftly diagnose coronavirus and other diseases, arousing a wave of deal-making in the diagnostics field. 

GenMark shares surged almost 50 percent last month after reports came that the company has gained huge interest from other medical diagnostics companies.

California-based GenMark manufactures panels that swiftly identify the most common viral and bacterial organisms linked to upper respiratory infections. Its products detect life-threatening bloodstream infections and antimicrobial resistance genes.

“The deal will broaden our molecular diagnostics portfolio to include solutions that can provide lifesaving information quickly to patients and their health-care providers,” Thomas Schinecker, the chief executive of Roche’s diagnostics unit, said in a statement.

Last year, the revenue of GenMark surged 95 percent to reach $171 million, due to its ePlex system, which speeds up lab diagnoses. As per the company’s estimations, the sales in 2021 will probably rise by 10 percent to 15 percent.

The GenMark takeover is expected to close by the second quarter of 2021. The company will continue to operate mainly out of its California headquarters.

Citigroup is acting as Roche’s financial adviser and Sidley Austin is the Swiss company’s legal counsel. JPMorgan Chase is GenMark’s financial adviser while DLA Piper is its legal counsel.

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