Biotech firm is expanding its Maryland operation Whittaker Corp. will add new jobs in Walkersville.

September 11, 1991|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Evening Sun Staff

Whittaker Corp. has purchased a medical-test making division of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing and intends to merge its operations into Whittaker's biotechnology unit that is based in Maryland.

Whittaker, an aerospace and biotechnology firm based in Los Angeles, purchased 3M Diagnostic Systems for about $8

million plus deferred payments totaling $3.4 million.

The diagnostics unit, which makes test kits for allergies and Lyme disease, will be moved from Santa Clara, Calif., to Walkersville, near Frederick, Whittaker said.

The 3M unit employs about 90 people, but not all of them will be needed at the combined operation, said Edward R. Muller, spokesman for Whittaker. He said the company could not estimate how many jobs will be added at the Walkersville site, which now employs about 400.

Whittaker Bioproducts is the leading supplier of blood tests for -- detecting Lyme disease, a flu-like illness caused by the bite of a ++ deer tick.

The 3M test, which analyzes urine, will be an important addition to the company's product line, he said.

"This acquisition significantly strengthens Whittaker Bioproducts' position in the diagnostic marketplace," said Joseph F. Alibrandi, chairman and chief executive officer of Whittaker.

The move is to be completed before the end of the year.

The company had announced earlier its intention to spin off the Whittaker Bioproducts unit to shareholders, forming an independent company based at Walkersville. Whittaker Bioproducts also has an operation in France.

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