Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Danaher Stock Surges on GE Biopharma Deal

General Electric GE trading floor nyse AP Images Richard Drew
Celia Hoffman | 27 February, 2019, 16:23

General Electric Co said on Monday it was selling its biopharma business to Danaher Corp for $21.4 billion, the company's biggest asset sale since it announced plans to break up the conglomerate last June.

Excluding the biopharma business, GE Healthcare in 2018 generated about $17 billion in revenue.

General Electric shares closed higher for a second consecutive trading session in NY on Monday.

The sell-off throws cold water on the giant's plans to spin out GE Healthcare through an IPO, Culp said in a Monday interview with Bloomberg. The company's shares have risen about 34 percent since the beginning of the year, but are still down nearly 30 percent from a year ago.

The announcement also further eased concerns about GE's solvency that had grown markedly a year ago, reflected in a surge in the price for GE credit default swaps (CDS) during the fourth quarter, a form of insurance against default. GE is expected to report its 2019 outlook at an earnings call scheduled on March 14. GE will receive cash proceeds of about $21 billion while also transferring certain pension liabilities to Danaher.

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The purchase is also the biggest yet for Danaher, which has a history of deal-making, and half of its revenue has come from companies it has acquired in the past seven years.

Danaher first approached GE almost a year ago about buying BioPharma. "To do this, we are improving execution, customer focus, and how we set priorities across GE".

The transaction allows the company to slim down further, and covers instruments and software that support research and development of biopharmaceutical drugs, a business that comprises about 15 per cent of the revenues of GE's health sector. Last year, it bought Integrated DNA Technologies, a gene-sequencing and editing company, for $2 billion. It will continue to operating as a stand-alone company once the deal is complete.

GE also said that weakness in the GE Power unit meant it would miss its 2018 free cash flow and earnings guidance target, with the company taking a $23 billion goodwill charge to the Power division. But its stance changed after Culp was appointed CEO and GE board's became more open to a deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity to discuss them. "We are retaining full flexibility for growth and strategic optionality with one of the world's leading healthcare companies, and we are pleased that our biopharma colleagues will join a strong, established team at Danaher", GE chairman and CEO H Lawrence Culp, Jr said.

Investors apparently agree, as Danaher stock - which had gained 7.8% by 11:40 a.m. EST - is going up in tandem with GE's. "It's unlikely we would do something here in the near to medium term", Culp said.

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