DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Danaher Corp. (DHR) agreed to acquire lab-equipment maker Beckman Coulter Inc. (BEC) for $5.87 billion as the diversified tool manufacturer looks to gain a stronger foothold in the growing diagnostics industry.
The deal ends two months of speculation about the future of Beckman, which makes diagnostic instruments used in clinical testing. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Beckman had put itself on the block and could fetch more than $5 billion in a sale. Analysts had speculated the company would attract a large number of suitors.
Under the terms of the deal, Danaher will pay $83.50 for each Beckman share, which the companies said represents a premium of about 45% over where the stock was trading Dec. 9, before takeover rumors surfaced.
Beckman shares surged 10% to $82.70 in premarket trading Monday, while Danaher was off 0.2% to $47.88. Beckman shares have never traded as high as the offer price and were under $44 as recently as September. The stock is up 36% in the past three months, thanks to the acquisition speculation.
Danaher--which makes Craftsman-brand tools for Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) and Husky wrenches for Home Depot Inc. (HD)--has been relying on acquisitions to bolster a slow growing revenue base, ratcheting up purchases this year and focusing its efforts on medical technology, testing and measurement and dental equipment, among other things.
Beckman would become part of Danaher's life sciences and diagnostics segment.
The deal, structured as a tender offer, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2011. The companies valued it at about $6.8 billion, including debt assumption and net of cash acquired.
"Following a very comprehensive and competitive process, the board of directors voted unanimously to accept Danaher's proposal," Beckman Chief Executive Bob Hurley said. "We believe this transaction maximizes Beckman Coulter shareholder value while strengthening the company's position as a leader in biomedical testing to the benefit of our customers and their healthcare patients around the world."
Late last month, Danaher reported its fourth-quarter earnings rose 78%, topping the company's own estimates, as sales improved, margins surged and the company saw increased restructuring costs in the prior quarter.
Meanwhile, Beckman in October said its third-quarter earnings surged, following charges the prior year, while the medical test-maker showed signs of improvement as it worked through quality problems and pressure from the weakened economy.
-By Lauren Pollock, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2356; firstname.lastname@example.org