Thermo Fisher Said to Seek Sale of Lab-Testing Units for Up to $1 Billion

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world’s largest maker of laboratory instruments, is seeking to sell two lab-testing divisions that may fetch as much as $1 billion as part of an effort to focus on equipment rather than services, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

Thermo Fisher hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to handle the sale of its Athena Diagnostics unit, which may be sold for $600 million to $700 million, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company hired Barclays Capital to help it sell Lancaster Labs, which may garner $200 million to $300 million, the person said.

Instruments, equipment and software make up about a third of the company’s revenue, and services account for about 15 percent, Marc Casper, Thermo Fisher’s chief executive officer, told investors yesterday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. About 50 percent comes from consumables, he said, or research products including vials and tubes. The company had annual sales of $10.1 billion in 2009.

Athena, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a reference laboratory that provides testing for neurological disorders. Lancaster Labs, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, provides lab services for pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and environmental companies. The sale process for Lancaster is further along, one of the people said.

Ron O’Brien, a spokesman for Thermo Fisher, declined to comment. Spokeswomen for Barclays and Goldman also declined to comment.

Stock Reaction

Thermo Fisher gained 58 cents, or 1 percent, to $56.64 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has climbed 16 percent in the past year.

Thermo Fisher’s fastest area of growth is the Asia-Pacific region, Casper said at the conference. It is investing in China and Brazil in both lab products and new technology initiatives to improve online capabilities for its customers.

The company’s goals last year were to increase investment in research and development, expand in Asia and take advantage of global stimulus funding, Casper said. The company announced $2.7 billion in acquisitions last year, he said, including $2.1 billion for Dionex Corp., the Sunnyvale, California-based producer of products used to identify chemical mixtures, to expand its business in China.

Going forward, Casper said he is looking for more acquisitions that will expand the company’s customer base beyond large pharmaceutical companies.

Thermo Fisher is “continuing to look for the right types of acquisitions to strengthen the portfolio and opportunities to create shareholder value,” Casper said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey McCracken in New York at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net; Catherine Larkin in Washington at clarkin4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net.

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