Life Tech, Dexter bought

Invitrogen obtains biotech company and majority owner

Acquisitions

September 15, 2000|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

Rockville-based Life Technologies Inc. is now a part of a California company that makes tools for pharmaceutical companies and researchers to use as they hunt for new ways to treat disease.

Invitrogen Corp. completed its $1.9 billion acquisition yesterday of Life Technologies and its 75 percent owner, Dexter Corp., the companies said. Shareholders voted yesterday to approve the acquisition, and shares of Dexter ceased to trade after the merger.

The acquisition ends a bitter fight over Life Technologies, but apparently not a fight over the spoils. International Specialty Products, an unsuccessful suitor that holds 3.5 million shares of Life Technologies, has notified the Rockville company that it is demanding an appraisal by the Delaware Chancery Court of the fair value of its shares.

International was the loser in a seven-month battle for Dexter, a battle that left Life Technologies caught in the crossfire.

Invitrogen said it might be required to pay International Specialty the fair value of shares as determined by the court if the action is pursued.

Invitrogen Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lyle C. Turner retains those roles in the new, merged company, while J. Stark Thompson, Life Technologies' president and CEO, will retain those titles as head of the new Life Technologies division. He also will hold a senior executive position with Invitrogen and join its board of directors.

Life Technologies said it would have no comment after yesterday's vote, and an assistant to Turner and Chief Financial Officer James R. Glynn said both men were traveling in New York after the shareholders meeting and were not available for comment.

Analysts don't expect the acquisition to result in changes for Life Technologies, a company that makes cultures used to grow cells for manufacturing biopharmaceuticals, as well as products used to isolate, identify and manipulate the genetic material in living organisms.

In its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company reported 229 sales employees worldwide and 175 working in research and development.

Invitrogen, based in Carlsbad, Calif., is known for its research kits used to improve gene analysis and cloning. Analysts consider it a good fit with Life Technologies, whose products could well be included in Invitrogen's kits.

"The jewel in the crown was Life Technologies," said George Mahmourides, a biotechnology analyst for Canadian Internet brokerage and online financial services firm GroomeCapital.com. "I don't think that division will be touched, because there are some strong cash cows in that organization."

Sun staff writer Rona Kobell contributed to this article.

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