Thermo Fisher Makes Electron Microscopy Move

The lab equipment firm's $4.2 billion purchase of FEI gives it access to technology used by biopharma companies to develop drugs.
Matthew HellerMay 30, 2016

Thermo Fisher Scientific said Friday it will acquire imaging company FEI Co. for $4.2 billion, adding electron microscope technology used to study proteins to its analytical instruments segment.

Hillsboro, Ore.-based FEI makes high-performance electron microscopes for customers in the life sciences and materials science markets. Thomas Fisher, the world’s largest scientific instruments maker, is a leader in mass spectrometry systems for identifying the chemical composition of a substance.

“The addition of FEI’s leading electron microscopy platform is an outstanding strategic fit with our company and will create significant value for our customers and our shareholders,” Thermo Fisher CEO Marc N. Casper said in a news release, noting that in life sciences, “there is growing adoption of electron microscopy to study the structure of protein.”

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Thermo Fisher will pay $107.50 per share for FEI, representing a premium of 13.7 percent to FEI’s Thursday close of $94.58. The stock rose 14.3% to close at $108.13 on Friday.

Casper told The Wall Street Journal that the deal was part of the $12 billion in capital that Thermo Fisher expects to spend on acquisitions over the next three years. In March, it bought gene-sequencing products maker Affymetrix Inc. for $1.3 billion.

FEI’s technology is used in drug research to study proteins in the body, a key in drug research. “That’s growing in importance for our biopharma customers,” Casper said, adding that those companies account for 30% of Thermo Fisher’s revenue.

Analysts at Leerink called the acquisition a “logical fit” since “electron microscopy represented a gap in Thermo’s scientific instruments offering.”

FEI employs more than 3,000 people worldwide and has research and development, sales and manufacturing operations in Europe and the U.S. “Fundamentally, this transaction bolsters our already strong position in the marketplace and allows us to play an increasing role in enabling our customers to accelerate breakthrough discoveries, increase productivity and provide solutions to global challenges,” FEI chief executive Don Kania said.