GE Buys BK Medical in $1.4B Ultrasound Bet

The acquisition will enable GE Healthcare to expand its ultrasound business "beyond diagnostics into surgical and therapeutic interventions."
Matthew HellerSeptember 23, 2021

General Electric said Thursday it will buy BK Medical for $1.45 billion to expand its ultrasound business from diagnostics to surgical imaging.

BK Medical, owned by healthcare investment firm Altaris Capital Partners, makes imaging devices that allow physicians to see inside the body in real-time during minimally invasive, robotic, and open surgeries.

According to Reuters, the acquisition is GE’s largest under Larry Culp, who has primarily focused on paying down debt since taking over as CEO in 2018.

“Ultrasound today forms an integral part of many care pathways, and BK Medical is a strategic and highly complementary addition to our growing and profitable ultrasound business,” GE Healthcare CEO Kieran Murphy said in a news release.

“This transaction helps GE Healthcare continue to expand beyond diagnostics into surgical and therapeutic interventions, simplifying decision-making for clinicians and equipping them with greater insights to deliver faster, more personalized care for their patients,” he added.

GE Healthcare’s ultrasound portfolio generated $3 billion in revenue in 2019, with its point-of-care heart and lung diagnostic probes later seeing increases in demand from the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this year, the medical technology giant launched two diagnostic ultrasound devices, including one aimed at COVID-19 wards as well as the Vscan Air pocket-sized, wireless probe. The precision healthcare sector “is worth tens of billions of dollars and is one of [GE’s] business priorities under Culp,” Reuters said.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that robot-assisted procedures accounted for 15.1% of all general surgeries in 2018, up from just 1.8% in 2012.

BK Medical has offices in Boston and Denmark and employs more than 650 people worldwide. The company, formerly known as Analogic, was acquired by Altaris for $1.1 billion in June 2018.

“Combining our expertise in intraoperative imaging and surgical navigation with GE Healthcare’s many strengths and global presence will accelerate our mission to change the standard of care in surgical interventions,” BK Medical CEO Brooks West said.

“Our mission to help surgeons make critical decisions using active imaging aligns well with GE Healthcare’s mission to help physicians make more informed decisions and improve patient outcomes,” he added.