GE to Buy Some Thermo Fisher Assets for $1.06 Billion

General Electric Co. agreed to buy businesses making equipment used to grow cell lines and purify DNA from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for about $1.06 billion.

The purchase of the cell culture, gene modulation and magnetic beads units will let Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE bolster technologies for the discovery and manufacture of new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics, according to a company statement today.

GE is focusing on acquisitions as it begins divesting the lucrative consumer-finance division this year and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said in December, he saw a “lot of good deals.” Margins and earnings at the health-care unit, which accounts for about 13 percent of the company’s total revenue, should improve this year, he said.

Thermo Fisher, the world’s biggest supplier of lab testing equipment by market value, agreed to sell the businesses in November to help get European regulatory approval for its $13.6 billion deal to buy Life Technologies Corp., which makes genetic testing and mapping equipment.

Today’s announcement should help push forward Thermo’s acquisition of Life, said Ross Muken, an analyst with ISI Group LLC.

“The timing of this sale is likely to be a positive surprise for many investors, particularly as it is one of the last pieces of the puzzle for the Life transaction to move toward ultimate completion,” Muken said in a note to clients today. The Life deal could close this month, he said.

GE’s acquisition of the Thermo Fisher assets is expected to close in the first half of this year, pending regulatory approval. The three acquired businesses generated combined annual revenue of about $250 million in 2013, GE said.

GE fell 0.8 percent to $27.26 at the close in New York, while Thermo Fisher was little changed at $110.06.

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