Though it will be old news by the time you read this, the sale of medical tool and chemical manufacturer Beckman Coulter Inc to Danaher Corp—announced literally the day before this issue goes to press—warranted me to scrap my original column topic. Not only because the merger is big news worth mentioning, but also because industry analysts are seeing the $6.8-billion deal as positive for a company that has endured its share of negatives this past year.

In February 2010, the Brea, Calif-based company confirmed that clients using its Access and UniCel DxI immunoassay platforms were receiving significantly higher numbers of false positive test results for a blood protein that usually occurs after myocardial infarctions. The FDA instituted a Class II recall in March. Then, in July, the FDA delivered a warning letter to the company reiterating the agency’s stance that Beckman marketed its AccuTnI test for heart problems without needed agency clearance. Come September, Scott Garrett, Beckman’s CEO for more than 5 years, resigned.

But with the agreement, endorsed unanimously by Beckman’s board of directors, things appear to be looking up.

“We believe this transaction maximizes Beckman Coulter shareholder value while strengthening the company’s position as a leader in biomedical testing,” said J. Robert Hurley, interim president and CEO.

With the deal expected to be completed in the first half of 2011, Beckman Coulter will become part of Danaher’s Life Sciences and Diagnostics segment, joining Danaher’s Leica, AB Sciex, Radiometer, and Molecular Devices businesses.

Danaher CEO Lawrence Culp called the acquisition a “high-fit, high-opportunity deal,” adding that Danaher was looking to “unlock value at Beckman.”

According to one analyst quoted in the Los Angeles Times, that value will be unlocked without any layoffs to Beckman’s workforce of 2,000 in Southern California.

To stay on top of developments in the clinical lab space, bookmark this website.

“Danaher is looking to expand its health care-related business,” said Jeffrey Loo of Standard & Poors Equity Group. “Beckman is a reputable name within that field.”

Loo also told the LA Times he expects Beckman Coulter shareholders to approve the offer, one whose per-share amount of $83.50 was 11% higher than Beckman’s February 4 closing price.

A replay of a Danaher-hosted conference call to discuss the transaction is available in the Investor section of

Will Campbell
Editor, CLP
(213) 254-5449