In a move intended to complete its product line offermentation and cell culture bioreactors, bioprocessingcompany Cellex Biosciences Inc. announced Thursday that ithas signed a letter of intent to acquire all of the stock of theU.K. company LSL Group Ltd., as well as that of its Europeanand U.S. subsidiaries.

LSL Biolafitte, the French subsidiary, manufactures anddistributes fermentation and cell culture bioreactors, freezedryers and filtration products. The products already have asignificant market presence; the LSL Group has installed morethan 1,750 bioreactor systems worldwide and reportedconsolidated revenues of $12 million for the fiscal year endedJune 30.

The acquisition should be complete by the end of this month,subject to various conditions, including the approval of Cellex'sboard of directors.

By adding the Biolafitte line of bioreactors to its repertoire,Cellex of Minneapolis has completed its plan to "create a uniqueand formidable force in the bioprocessing industry in whichone company has available all of the proven bioprocessingtechnologies to meet the needs of its customers," said RichardSakowicz, president and chief operating officer of Cellex(NASDAQ:CLXX).

In the mid-1980s, those various "proven bioprocessingtechnologies" -- each with a unique configuration -- were beingdeveloped by a number of independent companies, includingCellex. At that time, however, Cellex was called Endotronics Inc.and its stock traded on the OTC small-cap list as ENDO. (In fact,Endotronics itself underwent a restructuring; its amended planof reorganization was declared effective by the U.S. BankruptcyCourt in April 1988.)

The name change to Cellex actually didn't take place until lastMay, when Endotronics raised $7.3 million in a follow-on publicoffering of 1.5 million units at $6 per unit.

As Endotronics, the company had developed its own line ofbioreactors, termed Acusyst, which consisted of hollow-fibercell culture systems. Also in May, Endotronics/Cellex acquiredfrom former competitor Verax Corp. a line of fluidized bedbioreactors that employ a proprietary collagen-coatedmicrosphere culture technology.

In June 1992, Endotronics had acquired Opticell, a ceramic corematrix bioreactor technology originally developed by CharlesRiver Laboratories Inc. In August 1992, Endotronics acquiredthe marketing rights to yet another type of bioreactor, a bench-top stirred tank reactor termed the Wheaton Proteus 2000Integral System and developed by Wheaton Science ProductsInc.

Cellex reported operating revenues for the first nine months of1993 of $6.4 million and net income (after deducting anextraordinary charge related to financing cost on a debt) of$276,000. The company was profitable throughout that period,Sakowicz told BioWorld.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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