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Konica Minolta buys Cal. genetics firm in $1B deal

July 8, 2017

Tokyo-based Konica Minolta (Tokyo: 4902) is buying Viejo, Calif.-based Ambry Genetics in a deal totaling $1 billion.

A subsidiary of Konica will buy the privately held Ambry Genetics in a deal that is partially funded by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ). At closing, Konica Minolta will pay $800 million. Over the next two years, Konica will pay up to $200 million based on various financial metrics.

Ambry was founded in 1999 by Charles Dunlop and Aaron Elliott. Dunlop is currently president and chairman; Elliott is chief executive officer. The company markets a suite of genetic testing solutions for inherited and non-inherited diseases, as well as for clinical specialties that include oncology, cardiology, pulmonology, neurology and general genetics.

Konica Minolta, best known for manufacturing and marketing photocopiers, has been working to diversify away from office equipment. It has indicated that its advanced imaging technology will fit well with Ambry’s genetic testing products.

INCJ, backed by the Japanese government, was created to assist struggling Japanese companies. It indicated it wants to support the growth of Japan’s medical industry.

According to The New York Times, Ambry will keep its current leadership. Konica Minolta Healthcare America (MHUS) will invest 60 percent and INCJ will invest the remaining 40 percent. Ambry shareholders will receive up to $200 million in “incremental consideration based on certain financial metrics over the next two years, valuing the acquisition up to a total of $1 billion,” according to Konica Minolta.

“This acquisition is the first in a series of strategic initiatives to secure a leading position for Konica Minolta in precision medicine,” said Shoei Yamana, Konica Minolta’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “The future of medicine is patient-focused. Together with Ambry, we will have the most comprehensive set of diagnostic technologies for mapping an individual’s genetic and biochemical makeup, as well as the capabilities to translate that knowledge into information the medical community can use to discovery, prevent, and cost-effectively treat diseases. This will not only serve as the future foundation for our healthcare business but will pave the way for a fundamental shift in the way medicine is practiced globally.”

Much of the underlying interest is related to Konica Minolta’s High-Sensitivity Tissue Testing (HSTT), an advanced immunostaining technology that utilizes fluorescent nanoparticles to detect and analyze proteins behind specific diseases. Its initial applications were in cancer, but is believed can be used to help diagnose other diseases well. It is believed that HSTT will be a good complement to Ambry’s genetic testing capabilities.

Konica Minolta has broad expertise in materials science, nanofabrication, optics and imaging. This has transferred well to medical technologies and services, including digital X-ray diagnostic imaging systems, diagnostic ultrasound systems and ICT service platforms.

“We’re excited by this opportunity to combine both of our companies’ technologies to unlock new opportunities for precision medicine,” Dunlop said in a statement. “As a part of Konica Minolta, we will have the resources, technology, and scale to advance biomedical research and enable the matching of more patients in more countries with specialized medicines that target the underlying cause of their illness.”

Most recently, Ambry launched a combination genetic test for inherited and acquired mutations in DNA mismatch repair genes. This has implications in identifying appropriate treatment options for cancer patients who might benefit from PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy.


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