BioLife eyes up M&A in ‘fragmented’ regenerative med supply space

The cell and gene therapy tool supplier space is ripe for consolidation says BioLife Solutions, which is evaluating several acquisition targets.

For the third quarter 2018, regenerative medicine consumables and tools firm BioLife reported sales of its biopreservation media product of $5.3 million (€4.7 million), up 79% year-on-year.

With the firm also turning a profit of $1.2 million for the period, CEO Michael Rice spoke about the scaling-up opportunities to take advantage of the continued demand from the cell and gene therapy market, including M&A prospects.

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“For some time now, we have been evaluating various opportunities to acquire additional cell and gene therapy manufacturing tools and services companies or technologies to accelerate growth,” he said during a financial call.

He added the tool supplier side of the regenerative medicine space is “highly fragmented.” BioLife currently offers biopreservation media used to preserve source material and manufacture cell and gene therapies, and, according to Rice, the firm’s share of the per-dose spend and manufacturing tools ranges from about $100 to $500.

“We believe consolidation opportunities to acquire complementary companies or technologies could increase our share of the per-dose tool spend by five to 10 times,” he told stakeholders, adding: “We’re in the process of evaluating several opportunities and we’ll keep you updated when appropriate.”

SAVSU Technologies

One opportunity BioLife may jump on is the full acquisition of SAVSU Technologies, a privately held developer and manufacturer of cloud-connected passive storage and transport containers for temperature sensitive biologics and regenerative medicines.

BioLife has been gradually upping its stake in SAVSU, and in September 2018 invested a further $5 million to increase its ownership from 31% to 44%.

According to BioLife, SAVSU is providing technical support of evaluations and validation by 30 leading cell and gene therapy companies And earlier this month, the firm struck a deal to supply its evo Smart Shipper and evo.is cloud-based service to gene therapy firm AveXis, acquired by Swiss pharma giant Novartis for $8.7 million in May this year.

Roderick de Greef, BioLife’s CFO, said on the call the firm is considering acquiring SAVSU within the next 15 months through a fixed-price purchase option.

“The fundamental driver with respect to the timing of making that final acquisition is 100% related to, at what point will consolidating their financial statements, the immediately accretive or very accretive in the near-term so that’s really the driver from the timing perspective,” he said.

“We’re on the board, we’re very clear about what’s happening and how things are unfolding. And if the revenue or adoption of the technology goes more quickly than we think then – and that – it’s reflected in their financial statements, we’ll pull the trigger then. If it takes a little bit longer, we’ll do it then and that’s why he negotiated an 18-month window as opposed to anything shorter.”

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