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Thermo Fisher to sell three units to General Electric

$1.06b deal allows firm to complete buy of Life Technologies

Laboratory science supplier Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said Monday it will sell three businesses to General Electric Co.’s health care division in a $1.06 billion deal that will enable Waltham-based Thermo Fisher to complete a giant buyout of Life Technologies Corp.

GE Healthcare, based in Chalfont St. Giles, England, will buy Thermo Fisher’s cell culture, gene modulation, and magnetic beads businesses, integrating them into its own life sciences unit. The three businesses rang up a combined $250 billion in sales last year.

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The divestitures were required to fulfill an agreement struck between Thermo Fisher and European regulators in November that will allow the company to move forward with its Life Technologies acquisition, gaining an entree into the personalized medicine market.

Thermo Fisher agreed last April to pay $13.6 billion for Life Technologies, a diagnostics equipment maker. The agreement marked one of the largest life sciences deals initiated last year and the largest ever for Thermo Fisher, surpassing the $10.6 billion 2006 merger between Thermo Electron Corp. and Fisher Scientific International Inc. that formed the company.

Ron O’Brien, a Thermo Fisher spokesman, said the sale to GE Healthcare was part of the company’s efforts to speed up approval of the Life Technologies deal. That acquisition still requires approval of other regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission.

Shares of Thermo Fisher edged higher by a penny Monday to $110.06 on the New York Stock Exchange. GE shares slipped 22 cents to $27.26, a decline of 0.8 percent.

GE Healthcare has more than 100 employees in Marlborough, the site of Xcellerex Inc., a medical technology company it acquired in 2012. The purchase of the three Thermo Fisher businesses will let GE Healthcare’s life sciences unit expand from selling purification and analytic technologies used in biotechnology drug development to selling cell cultures and other products used to produce protein-based medicines that are grown in giant vats called bioreactors.

‘If you can optimize the process from start to finish, you’re much more likely to get a better product and to get the product to market more quickly.’

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Demand for such products is increasing, said GE Healthcare spokeswoman Val Jones.

“We’ve got a long heritage in the downstream part of the manufacturing process,” Jones said. “About two years ago, we decided to move into the upstream part of the process. These biologic drugs can be very challenging to make. If you can optimize the process from start to finish, you’re much more likely to get a better product and to get the product to market more quickly.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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