Perkinelmer Inc. is aiming to boost its infectious disease testing footprint with the acquisition of Oxford Immunotec Global plc for $591 million in cash. The purchase, reported Thursday, will allow Perkinelmer to expand its current offerings with solutions for tuberculosis (TB) detection.

Based in the Abingdon, U.K., Oxford Immunotec’s lead product is the T-Spot.TB test for latent tuberculosis. The test measures in vitro T-cell interferon gamma release in response to two Mycobacterium TB-specific antigens, ESAT-6 and CFP 10. It is currently available in over 60 countries.

“Tuberculosis remains one of the leading infectious causes of death, with close to one quarter of the world’s population infected,” said Prahlad Singh, Perkinelmer’s president and CEO. “We believe Oxford Immunotec’s diagnostic testing solution plays an important role in slowing the spread and saving lives.

With an estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide living with latent TB, increased testing is a key step in controlling the disease, Masoud Toloue, vice president and general manager for diagnostics at Perkinelmer, told BioWorld. “Latent TB can convert to active TB at any time, often triggered during a period of being immunocompromised.”

Synergies

Beyond growing its infectious disease testing offerings, the deal will enable Waltham, Mass.-based Perkinelmer to merge its channel expertise, workflow and testing capabilities with Oxford Immunotec’s prowess in T cell immunology.

“We recognize the distinct clinical logistical advantages of the [T-Spot.TB] test and see a great opportunity to leverage our automation capabilities and channel to bring TB testing to more customers around the world,” Toloue said.

“Perkinelmer’s goal with the acquisition is to maximize the growth and success of Oxford Immunotec’s TB offerings,” he said, adding the companies will work together to identify how their resources, skills and technologies can “augment our success” going forward.

“Zooming out, there are two primary focus areas for monitoring a patient’s immune response. Humoral immunity and cell-mediated immunity,” Toloue continued. “Perkinelmer has a strong brand in contemporary humoral (antibody) diagnostic testing. Oxford adds expertise on the cell-mediated side.

“Combined, we think we’re better positioned (and differentiated in our ability) to support patients in understanding their immune response to disease.”

Perkinelmer shares (NYSE:PKI) hit a high of $162.16 Thursday morning, before closing at $160.53 – up 2.66% from the Wednesday’s close of $156.37.

Terms of transaction

Under the terms of the agreement, Oxford Immunotec shareholders will receive $22 in cash for each outstanding share of ordinary stock. The price represents a premium of roughly 28.3% to the closing price per share of $17.15 on Jan. 5, 2021, and 53.5% to the 90-day trading volume-weighted average price of $14.34 for the period Oct. 8, 2020, to Jan. 5, 2020.

Oxford Immunotec reported revenue of $73.7 million for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2019, and $39.2 million for the first nine months of 2021. The company has a global workforce of 275 employees.

Commenting on the acquisition, Peter Wrighton-Smith, CEO of Oxford Immunotec, said the transaction will be “great for our shareholders, our employees and our customers. Access to Perkinelmer’s global reach and automation experience will enable us to accelerate our growth journey and make a growing impact in the field of infectious diseases.”

The boards of both companies have approved the deal. It is expected to close in the first half of 2021, pending regulatory approvals. Upon completion, Oxford Immunotec will become a privately held company and its ordinary shares will cease to be listed on any public market.

COVID-19

Tuberculosis isn’t Oxford Immunotec’s only angle. The company also has an ELISA test for tick-borne Lyme disease and a research-use-only test for quantifying T cell responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A commercial, clinical-grade version of the latter, T-Spot Discovery SARS-CoV-2, is currently in development.

The COVID-19 test is based on the same automated technology as the company’s TB diagnostic. It is being evaluated as part of a 3,000-subject study of diagnostic tests funded by the U.K. government agency Public Health England.

When available, the test will complement Perkinelmer’s existing line of COVID-19 offerings, including the FDA-authorized New Coronavirus Nucleic Acid Detection Kit, a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in oral and nasal swab samples, and the CE-IVD-marked Pkamp Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Panel.

This is Perkinelmer’s second large acquisition in just over two months. In November, the company snapped up cell engineering company Horizon Discovery Group plc, of Cambridge, U.K., in a $383 million all-cash deal. The move adds gene editing and gene modulation tools to Perkinelmer’s existing life sciences portfolio of discovery and applied genomics solutions. Among Horizon’s offerings are CRISPR and RNA interference reagents, cell models, cell engineering and based editing products to aid in drug discovery and development.

That company, with about 400 employees worldwide, had revenue of $75.5 million in 2019.

Toloue said Perkinelmer will “continue to vet assets,” as inorganic growth is fundamental part of its long-term strategy. “As we’ve demonstrated with our past two public deals, we are proactively investing inorganically to better position our portfolio with the future – and in our view, where science is headed.”