Sartorius Investment in BICO to Boost Asia Expansion

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As part of its multifaceted growth strategy, biotech company BICO (STO: BICO) has gained a new strategic partner, distributor, and investor in Sartorius (ETR: SRT), a century-old German life science group. A recently inked deal left Sartorius with a 10.1% stake in BICO and a privileged position as the leading distributor of BICO products in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, along with an agreement to develop bioprinting technologies.

Through the partnership, both companies will enter into a research and development collaboration to devise 3D cell printing and associated technologies, as well as digital solutions for cell line development workflows. To underline its commitment to the partnership, Sartorius will buy 10 percent of outstanding BICO shares before the transaction for roughly SEK 487 million (€45 million). The net proceeds will help strengthen BICO’s financial position, accelerate its growth agenda and cement its market position.

Furthermore, considering that Sartorius is subscribing to a directed share issue, it will pay SEK 76 (€6.79) for each share that is otherwise currently trading at SEK 107.45 (€9.60) on the Nasdaq Stockholm. Agreed upon late last year, the subscription price per each new share was determined by BICO’s Board of Directors following arm’s-length negotiations with Sartorius. Added to Sartorius’ already existing holding in BICO, the German firm will own approximately 10.1 percent of the shares and 8.5 percent of the voting rights for BICO once the transaction is finalized.

Lab engineer using 3D bioprinting for life sciences applications. There is an increased demand from labs for automation, robustness and accessibility. Image courtesy of BICO.

Commenting on the deal, Sartorius Head of Lab Products and Services Division Gerry Mackay said the cooperation with BICO will strengthen Sartorius’ presence in dynamic fields like advanced cell models and digital workflows in drug research and development.

“We will further enhance the position of both companies in the fast-growing Asian markets with highly differentiating and relevant technologies. We are convinced that the strategic partnership and the investment in BICO will create value for both parties,” said Mackay, who is also a member of Sartorius Executive Board.

Similarly, BICO Co-Founder and CEO Erik Gatenholm highlighted the importance of an expansion in the APAC region as part of its growth strategy and potential. One of the perks of the new deal is BICO’s access to complementary technologies and products that can enhance its current offering of bioprinters and lab automation devices.

Not only does Sartorius have one of the broadest product offerings in the region, but its hefty $26.74 billion market cap makes it the world’s 650th most valuable company. With more than 14,000 employees at over 60 production and sales locations worldwide, the company is committed to its ambition of simplifying medical progress, providing researchers with innovative technologies that make the development and manufacture of innovative therapeutics faster and more efficient and eventually seeking to provide better medicine to patients, claims the brand.

Sartorius aims to help the medical community accelerate therapies for patients. Image courtesy of Sartorius.

With such coinciding visions, it’s clear to see why Sartorius struck a deal with BICO. As one of the leading providers of life science solutions, BICO combines technologies with biology to streamline and automate workflows within the pharmaceutical and biopharma industries. With over 32,000 instruments installed in over 65 countries, BICO products and solutions are found in thousands of laboratories. One of the pioneers in the bioprinting field, BICO continues to attract big names to its ranks. A few days ago, the biotech brand appointed former BIT Analytical Instruments CEO Marius Balger as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and former Deloitte Manager Jacob Thordenberg as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Nasdaq Stockholm sign announces Bico to begin trading on the exchange. Rebranded bioprinting firm Cellink begins trading as BICO on Nasdaq Stockholm. Image courtesy of BICO.

Aiming to disrupt the drug discovery and human tissue biofabrication industries is among the priorities of many pioneering bioprinting organizations. BICO took this mission to heart, and since 2018 it has set out on a shopping M&A spree that led to the purchase of 13 companies. After rebranding as BICO, the company revealed that its net sales grew by more than 600% during the first half of 2021, driven by M&As and organic growth. For the full year 2021, the company informed that 44% was organic growth, while the rest came from the new companies in its portfolio.

However, news of M&A deals and strategic partnerships follow an internal rift that started after the departure of one of the company’s co-founders and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Gusten Danielsson. In late April 2022, Danielsson, responsible for strategizing BICO’s economic direction, said CEO Erik Gatenholm was “no longer the right leader for the company, even if he remains a controlling shareholder.” Although the internal battle might linger, it hasn’t stopped the company from moving forward with its strategy.

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