DiaSorin to buy Covid-19 test-maker Luminex for US$1.8b

[MILAN] Italian diagnostics company DiaSorin SpA agreed to acquire Luminex Corp for about US$1.8 billion, gaining the maker of Covid-19 testing kits and a greater foothold in the US market.

DiaSorin agreed to pay US$37 a share in the all-cash transaction, according to a statement Sunday. That's about 12 per cent more than Luminex's closing share price on April 9. DiaSorin shares rose as much as 11.4 per cent in Milan trading, the most ever.

Austin, Texas-based Luminex makes Covid-19 laboratory tests along with a suite of other biological testing technologies. In late March, it applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of a lab test that combines tests for Covid-19 and the flu.

"Luminex perfectly fits with our strategy to grow our positioning in the molecular diagnostics space," DiaSorin Chief Executive Officer Carlo Rosa said in the statement. The purchase also gives it a bigger presence in North America, which accounted for about 37 per cent of its sales in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Like many companies in the lab-testing space, the pandemic has been a boon for Luminex's business. The sale comes amid a pickup in health-care mergers, including among companies that make products for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The company had been exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, after receiving takeover interest from companies including DiaSorin, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News earlier this year.

The transaction will be funded through a mix of cash and external financing. It's expected to close in the third quarter and is subject to shareholder approval.

On Sunday, DiaSorin signed a US$1.1 billion term loan due in 2026 and a US$500 million bridge loan due within 12 months with a group of banks including BNP, Citi, Mediobanca and UniCredit.

Morgan Stanley advised DiaSorin, while Perella Weinberg worked for Luminex and Mediobanca provided a fairness opinion to DiaSorin's board.



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