Cytiva rises out of GE Healthcare as Danaher completes $21bn deal

It’s “absolutely business as usual” says Cytiva, the bioprocess vendor formerly known as GE Healthcare Life Sciences, despite a new owner and an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Three months later than originally planned, Danaher Corporation has completed the largest ever acquisition in the bioprocess space, adding the biopharma business unit of GE Healthcare to its life sciences portfolio.

The $21.4 billion (€19.4 billion) deal brings Danaher a range of products including the AKTA, Hyclone, MabSelect, Wave, and Xcellerex brands, along with the KUBio off-the-shelf, modular biologics factory platform, all now under the new name of Cytiva. To help facilitate the deal, Danaher divested certain technologies to rival vendor Sartorius  for $750 million.

But apart from the name change its “absolutely business as usual,” says Emmanuel Ligner, Cytiva’s president.

He tells Bioprocess Insider that his firm has pursued a “very clear mission to ensure continuity of technologies and services to [its] customers,” adding that 75% of all approved biologics use Cytiva’s products in their manufacturing processes. On the back of the acquisition “customers have been asking whether they will have to change product, manufacturing site, or point of contact? And the answer to all three is ‘no.’”

Name and logo change

The name was selected from a list of around 5,000 potentials and comes from ‘cyto,’ which means ‘cell’ in Greek, and ‘iva,’ a Latin suffix meaning ‘doing’ and ‘capable of.’

Cytiva was also the name of a former product from GE’s research portfolio consisting of live human heart cells used by pharma companies in toxicology studies.

Meanwhile ‘The Drop’ logo is another callback, having first been designed for Pharmacia in 1966. The defunct firm produced chromatography resins and downstream equipment from a site in Uppsala, which now serves as Cytiva’s largest Life Sciences site and continues to produce bioprocess tools and technologies.

Wily-eyed readers may have seen the logo used more recently as in 2002 it was used as the downstream bioprocess category logo for GE’s ÄKTA, HiTrap, and Sephadex products, then expanded as a product category logo for GE’s single-use portfolio in 2008, before being dropped except in key chromatography categories in 2010.

Ligner also reiterates that Cytiva will remain a standalone company under Danaher’s umbrella, despite Danaher Corporation owining numerous life science-focused firms including Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Molecular Devices, and SCIEX, as well as direct bioprocess ‘rival’ Pall Corporation.

“We are excited to join a team and company that’s so involved in the life sciences space,” he says, and when pushed added there may be opportunities in the future to work with some of the other Danaher divisions to “fuel innovation” by speaking to colleagues in the same field.

COVID-19

The delays in closing the deal were pretty usual as global competition regulators had to assess the impact of such a large merger, Ligner adds. However, that means today’s conclusion comes bang in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. We ask if this makes the change in ownership more difficult.

“Whatever industry or company you work with, everybody’s job is difficult [right now]. But we are really super motivated, and everyone has a task to do. It’s a big job but we are making sure we continue to make products and ship them to our customers and to support them during this time.”

He adds: “We are following the directions of the authorities across the different jurisdictions we operate in and applying where necessary to be essential manufacturers.”

Like fellow vendors Thermo Fisher and MilliporeSigma, Cytiva is also ensuring staff are equipped with PPE (personal protective equipment) and work from home where necessary.

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