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Fisher Scientific to Buy Apogent for $2.7 Billion

March 18, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Fisher Scientific International Inc., the biggest U.S. supplier of research-lab equipment, agreed Wednesday to buy Apogent Technologies Inc. for about $2.7 billion in stock to gain products that scientists use to discover drugs.

Stockholders would get 0.56 Fisher share for each share they own, valuing the offer at $29.30 a share, a 5% premium over Apogent's closing share price Tuesday of $27.78. Hampton, N.H.-based Fisher also is assuming $985 million of debt.

Fisher has announced $5 billion in acquisitions in six months as Chief Executive Paul M. Montrone adds higher-profit lab products for researching protein-derived drugs.

Buying products the company distributes allows it to boost margins and make better use of a network that supplies petri dishes and chemicals to 350,000 customers, analysts said.

The company said revenue probably would increase as much as 30% this year, with Apogent accounting for almost half the gain. Earnings next year will rise as much as 5%, reaching $3.45 to $3.65 a share, the company said.

Shares of Fisher, which have risen 26% this year and have tripled in five years, fell 22 cents to $52.10 on the New York Stock Exchange. Apogent rose $1.07 to $28.85, after touching $30.20, also on the NYSE.

The companies are about 13 miles apart in southern New Hampshire, and Fisher is Apogent's largest customer. Fisher President David T. Della Penta worked at Apogent for 25 years.

"We understand one another's corporate cultures," Montrone said.

Apogent makes more than 10,000 lab products, including beakers and microbial slides.

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