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Thermo Fisher Considers Buying $8 Billion Diagnostics Firm Qiagen

Ed Hammond, Dinesh Nair and Nabila Ahmed

(Bloomberg) -- Qiagen NV shares jumped the most in 17 years after people with knowledge of the matter said Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is considering a takeover of the molecular testing firm.

Thermo Fisher has approached the Dutch company about a potential purchase that could become one of its biggest-ever acquisitions, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Shares of Qiagen rose 13% to 33.20 euros at 1:10 p.m. in Frankfurt, giving it a market value of $8.3 billion.

There’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, and other bidders for Qiagen could emerge, the people said. Thermo Fisher shares rose 1.4% to $300.02 at the close of New York trading on Wednesday, valuing it at more than $120 billion.

The potential transaction could become one of Thermo Fisher’s largest purchases, surpassing its $5 billion takeover of drug-ingredient maker Patheon NV in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its largest acquisition was its $15 billion purchase of Life Technologies Corp. in 2014, the data show.

Deal Pipeline

Qiagen spokesman Thomas Theuringer declined to comment, citing company policy. The company serves doctors, researchers and others with molecular-testing platforms that can extract and analyze people’s DNA and RNA. The company emerged from university research and has grown in recent years amid the boom in genetic testing.

Representatives for Thermo Fisher, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, couldn’t immediately comment.

U.K. scientific measurement testing company LGC Group also has attracted sale interest. The private equity firm Cinven has teamed up with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to weigh a joint bid for the KKR & Co.-backed company, people familiar with the matter have said.

Leadership Change

Thermo Fisher Chief Executive Officer Marc Casper told analysts last month he feels “great” about the company’s mergers and acquisitions pipeline, which “continues to be very active.”

Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz announced last month that he will step down after 27 years at the company, saying it’s time to bring in new leadership. Senior Vice President Thierry Bernard will act as interim CEO until a permanent successor is found. The company also cut its quarterly estimate for sales growth, sending its shares plunging the most in 17 years.

Top medical device makers have the capacity to take on additional debt to finance acquisitions, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Last year, Thermo Fisher rival Medtronic Plc agreed to buy the shares it doesn’t already own in Mazor Robotics Ltd. in a deal valuing the company at about $1.6 billion.

(Updates share move in first two paragraphs.)

--With assistance from Aaron Kirchfeld and Tim Loh.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ed Hammond in New York at ehammond12@bloomberg.net;Dinesh Nair in London at dnair5@bloomberg.net;Nabila Ahmed in New York at nahmed54@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Scent at bscent@bloomberg.net, ;Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net, Eric Pfanner

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