Thermo Fisher going viral in $1.7bn Brammer Bio buy

Thermo Fisher has broadened its CDMO interest by agreeing to acquire viral vector firm Brammer Bio. The deal brings Brammer access to a broad portfolio of gene therapy technologies and consumables.

This morning bioprocess giant Thermo Fisher made good on the recent rumors of a major acquisition by agreeing to buy contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Brammer Bio for $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) in cash from Ampersand Capital Partners.

Formed through the merger of Brammer Biopharmaceuticals and Florida Biologix in 2016, the CDMO makes viral vector products for in vivo and ex vivo therapeutic applications. From its Alachua, Florida, and Cambridge, Massachusetts facilities, the firm offers late-stage clinical and commercial-ready manufacturing gene therapy capabilities.

Brammer Bio is the latest acquisition for Thermo. Image: iStock/pichet_w

Marc Casper, CEO of Thermo Fisher, described the deal as “an exciting addition” to his firm’s pharma services business.

“Gene therapy is an area of increasing focus for our customers and is fast-evolving given its potential to treat a range of genetic disorders,” he said. “The combination of Brammer Bio’s viral vector capabilities with our GMP production expertise and proprietary bioprocessing and cell culture technologies uniquely positions us to partner with our customers to drive the evolution of this incredibly fast-growing market.”

Entering the next frontier

Gene therapies are one of the fastest growing areas in the biopharma space and demand for manufacturing capabilities currently outstrips supply.

Therefore, the deal “is a prime example of Marc [Casper] and Co. looking at how they would like to be positioned in the next 5-10 years and adding to the existing portfolio to build out exposure and maintain leading positions in the market,” Evercore ISI analyst Ross Muken said in a note.

“It is no secret that gene therapy is considered to be the next frontier within drug development and Brammer’s broad exposure to the development stage pipeline provides Thermo Fisher a strong foothold in the space.”

Brammer is also set to benefit from its new parent by leveraging Thermo Fisher’s broad portfolio of cell and gene therapy technologies and consumables, something Muken says will allow the CDMO to “accelerate discovery and cross sell service significantly.”

Brammer Bio confirmed this, with a spokesperson telling Bioprocess Insider: “We believe that by leveraging our leading CDMO services as well as our technologies in cell culture, bioproduction and analytical instruments, we will have a competitive advantage.”

Vendor bender

The deal – expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2019 – is another major jump from vendor to manufacturer for Thermo Fisher, following its $7.2 billion acquisition of CDMO Patheon in 2017.

It is also the latest in a long list of life science bolt-ons for the firm, which since 2014 has acquired:

  • Life Technologies, for research tools and consumables in 2014 for $15.8 billion
  • Advanced Scientifics, Inc. (ASI), for single-use bioreactors and components in 2015 for $300 million
  • Alfa Aesar, for research chemicals in 2015 for $405 million
  • Affymetrix, for bioanalytics / process solutions in 2016 for $1.3 billion
  • FEI Company, for high-performance electron microscopy, in 2016 for $4.2 billion
  • MTI-Globalstem, for stem cell reagents in 2016 (price not disclosed)
  • Finesse Solutions, for automation / controls in 2017 (price not disclosed)
  • Patheon, for CDMO capabilities in 2017 for $7.2 billion
  • Gatan, for instrumentation and software in 2018 for $925 million
  • BD’s Advanced Bioprocessing business, adding peptones that enhance cell culture media formulations in 2018 (price not disclosed)

Related news: We are in the ‘golden age for the CDMO space,’ says Thermo Fisher

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