Medical Device Daily Contributing Writer
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Air Liquide (Paris) said it would double its UK operations with the acquisition of Linde Gas UK (West Bromwich, UK), reported last week. The French company did not disclose financial details of the sale except to say the transaction is based on "an entreprise value of 1 105 million" ($136 million).

"This is a significant extension of our presence in the UK, giving us access to the UK hospital and homecare markets," said Beno t Potier, CEO and chairman of Air Liquide. Certain acquired activities of Linde also will strengthen existing industrial activities, he said.

Air Liquide entered the UK market with the acquisition of the industrial gas group Messer in 2004.

With annual sales of 1 60 million ($78 million), Linde Gas UK consolidated the UK-based operations of Linde AG (Wiesbaden, Germany) following its merger with the BOC Group in September 2006.

Linde said in a statement that the divestiture of certain operations was one of the antitrust conditions imposed on the company by the European Commission as part of approving the acquisition. Linde said it is selling non-BOC gases activities in the UK to Air Liquide and that completion of the acquisition is subject to approval by the European competition authorities.

The merger with BOC catapulted Linde to the lead position worldwide in the industrial and medical gases sector with combined sales of 1 12 billion ($15.6 billion), ending Air Liquide's dominance in the market.

Potier said the acquisition will have an immediate positive impact on his company's results. At the end of February, Air Liquide reported sales of 1 10.9 billion ($14.2 billion), an increase of 5.7% over 2005. Almost 80% of its sales are generated outside of France. The company's stock rose almost 4% in Paris on news of the acquisition to 1 176.

Almost one-third of the acquired activities in the UK are in the medical gases and homecare services markets, a key growth driver for Air Liquide, said a company spokesman, who added that it is "one in which the group is currently not present in the UK."

New OEM business model for Synova

Synova (Lausanne, Switzerland), which calls itself the world pioneer and patent-holder of water jet-guided laser technology, has unveiled a business model allowing select partners to license its Laser MicroJet technology.

While the company will continue to develop, sell and service its own Laser MicroJet-based products, OEMs spanning various industries will now be able to integrate Synova's Laser MicroJet modules into their own tools, and end users will be able to integrate these modules directly into their production lines.

The company said that by creating a network of strategic channel partners, "this licensing model will facilitate a new revenue stream for the company, as well as firmly position Synova's technology in additional global markets and applications."

It will also enable an immediate increase in production, service and distribution capacity, allowing Synova to "focus more deeply" on serving customers in its core industries: medical instruments, semiconductors, flat-panel displays, solar energy and automotive.

Under the new model, Synova will offer non-exclusive licensing of the Laser MicroJet module — comprising a coupling unit, laser-source and water pump — for integration into both end-user and equipment manufacturer systems. Under the terms of the licensing agreements, the module is available for purchase royalty-free.

Modules also are available to equipment manufacturers under a pre-fixed, royalty-based licensing agreement. The company said that in order o encourage long-term collaboration, the agreements also will encompass technology and knowledge transfer.

"Synova has evolved tremendously in the last decade since our founding. We've moved from building credibility and awareness of our technology to now solving our biggest challenge yet: how best to satisfy the explosion of demand for Laser MicroJet in so many diverse markets and application areas," said CEO Bernold Richerzhagen.

"This move to expand our infrastructure through strategic licensing agreements is a critical part of our growth strategy to serve Laser MicroJet users on a global scale," he said.

The company said Laser MicroJet has been "successfully validated" in a production environment. It cited the product's "highly flexible and easily adaptable process for a wide range of applications."

Synova recently opened micromachining centers for demonstration, test and development of new applications in Fremont, California; Boston; Kyoto, Japan; and Seoul, Korea. The company currently has more than 60 systems operational at customer sites worldwide.

In addition to its Swiss headquarters, Synova has subsidiaries in China, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

Sonablate distributor set in Norway, Sweden

Misonix (Farmingdale, New York) reported the further expansion of its European high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) business using the Sonablate 500 (SB500) for prostate cancer treatment through a distribution agreement with Partnermed AS for the SB500 in Norway and Sweden.

The SB500 was developed by Focus Surgery (Indianapolis); it is manufactured by Misonix, which has the exclusive European distribution rights for the product.

Misonix is an investor in privately held Focus Surgery, which it refers to as "one of the most prominent developers of HIFU in the world."

Partnermed's product portfolio includes a range of medical capital equipment with expertise and concentration in the field of urology, where it also distributes products for Laserscope and Stonelight, among other manufacturers.

"Our entry into Norway and Sweden with the Sonablate 500 for HIFU treatment of kidney cancer is an important step," said Michael McManus Jr, president/CEO of Misonix. "These two countries rank second and third, respectively, among the top nations in the world in prostate cancer death rates."

Including Norway and Sweden, the HIFU procedure using the Sonablate 500 now is available in 16 European countries. The company reports more than 4,000 SB500 treatments completed worldwide to date.

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