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Private equity to buy SeraCare

By Nick Taylor , 14-Feb-2012

SeraCare Life Sciences has accepted an $82m offer from a US private equity firm six months after it began searching for a buyer.

SeraCare Life Sciences has accepted an $82m offer from a US private equity firm six months after it began searching for a buyer.

In the first six months of 2011 SeraCare stock fell 30 per cent before spiking in June when MSMB Capital made an unsolicited $4.25 (€3.23) a share offer. Weeks after the bid SeraCare began looking into ‘strategic alternatives’ and has now accepted a $4 a share offer from Linden Capital Partners.

Talking to investors, Greg Gould, interim CEO at SeraCare, said the offer has a high likelihood of being closed and Linden is a good “strategic fit” for the company. Linden is a healthcare-focused, Chicago-based private equity firm with stakes in diagnostics and services companies.

In August Gould told Outsourcing-Pharma the board would consider breaking up the company but have eventually accepted a bid for the whole business. SeraCare’s offering includes sample handling and clinical trial support services, as well as products for in vitro diagnostics and blood testing.

Positive feedback

On a call to discuss the deal investors were broadly positive. Robert Chapman, managing member Chapman Capital, said: “I feel pretty confident you guys have exhausted all opportunities to get the highest price possible.”

The deal has only just been signed, Gould said, and at the time of the call SeraCare was yet to receive voting commitments from shareholders. This changed on the call. Chapman owns four per cent of SeraCare, he said, and will vote in favour of the takeover.

Martin Shkreli, chief investment officer at MSMB Capital, also voiced support for the deal. Shkreli began bidding on SeraCare with the $4.25 a share offer in June but welcomed the deal nonetheless.

The state of SeraCare

The offer comes days after SeraCare posted first quarter results. Overall sales were up nine per cent but this masked continued weakness in demand for services. Bioservices sales fell by one-fifth year-on-year, continuing the trend seen in 2011 when the loss of government business hit revenues.

Speaking to investors after posting first quarter results Gould said the bioservices business should improve in the second half of 2012. To offset weaker government demand SeraCare is pursuing commercial clients and expects some of these contracts to ramp up in the second half of the year.

Shares in SeraCare jumped 10 per cent after release of the news to close just below the bid at $3.94. If the takeover is approved by shareholders at a special meeting SeraCare is planning the deal is likely to close in the second quarter.

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