Genzyme sells testing services unit

US biotech Genzyme has agreed to sell its testing business Genzyme Genetics to LabCorp for a cool $925 million (£596 million).

Under the terms, LabCorp will get testing services, technology, intellectual property rights and nine testing laboratories. The company says it will keep the 1900 employees affected, including senior management, following closure of the deal, which is expected before the end of the year.

‘This transaction demonstrates the strategic value of Genzyme Genetics and the strong franchise we’ve built over a twenty year period,’ said Genzyme chairman and chief executive Henri Termeer. ‘It also shows how our management team is uniquely positioned to unlock the underappreciated value of Genzyme’s diverse businesses for shareholders. The completion of this sale allows us to focus our resources on core growth areas and create stronger returns on invested capital.’

Genzyme says the sale is the first of three that it committed to in May to ‘increase shareholder value’. It is still planning to sell its diagnostic products and pharmaceutical intermediates business units.

But the move comes in the wake of the offer to purchase Genzyme made by pharma giant Sanofi-Aventis, which valued the company at $18.5 billion. Genzyme rejected the ‘opportunistic’ bid, which it criticised for undervaluing the company.

Dosing suspended in Roche diabetes drug trial

Swiss drugmaker Roche has stopped dosing patients taking part in Phase III trials of its diabetes candidate taspoglutide due to adverse reactions.

The company told Chemistry World that too many patients had discontinued use due to gut problems and hypersensitivity, compromising the long-term safety data. It was considering reformulating the drug and would say more before the end of the year.


Hexion and Momentive come together


Hexion and Momentive will merge to form ‘a global leader in speciality chemicals and materials’.

The new company, which will keep the name Momentive, will comprise 117 production sites, employ 10,000 workers and deliver predicted annual sales of $7.5 billion.

Investment firm Apollo Management owns controlling interests in both companies.

‘The combined company will be able to provide customers with a full range of specialty chemicals and materials and will have significant operations in virtually all major world markets,’ said Josh Harris, managing partner at Apollo Management. ‘The transaction does not require any additional financing and will result in significant synergies that will enhance the financial profile of the new Momentive.’

Hexion chairman and chief executive Craig Morrison will become chairman and chief executive of the new company. Jonathan Rich, president and chief executive of Momentive, will join the board of directors.

‘The complementary technologies of our two companies will enable the combined company to present to customers a full range of innovative solutions for their materials needs,’ said Rich. ‘The combination will create a leader in cutting-edge solutions serving a wide range of industrial and consumer product needs.’

The deal is expected to close on 1 October.

Arkema signs up Purac for biopolymer production

French chemical company Arkema has partnered with Purac, a subsidiary of CSM, to produce block co-polymers containing poly-lactic acid (PLA) segments.

PLA is a thermoplastic polymer made from plant material that has applications in packaging and consumer goods, including textiles. Arkema will provide organic catalysis techniques while Purac supplies the lactides.

According to Arkema, the result will be polymers with improved thermal resistance and impact strength.

Business confidence high in chemistry sectors

Senior executives working in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries are more confident than their equivalents elsewhere, a new report has found.

UK law firm Eversheds asked 1000 business figures from around the world: ‘Do you feel more confident in terms of your organisation’s economic outlook now than you did at the beginning of 2010?’

For the pharmaceutical and chemical sector, the number of positive responses was 42% higher than the number of negative responses. Only the food, drink and tobacco sector returned higher confidence.

In addition, the report noted ‘a renewed appetite to increase staff numbers’, with companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors among those most focussed on recruitment.

Bayer invests in seed business


Chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer is going to invest €12 million (£10 million) in its Nunhems research centre in Leudal, where it develops vegetable seeds. The existing research building will be enlarged and equipped with laboratories for DNA analyses and other activities. The company expects the site to be fully operational again by the end of 2011.

Head of bioscience Joachim Schneider said: ‘By upgrading our research facilities, we will be in an even better position to develop innovative vegetable seed varieties with good yields, disease resistance and excellent quality.’

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