Protein research tools supplier Abcam will almost certainly be bought by life sciences and diagnostics provider Danaher, it appears today (1 November) after its founder suspended his bid for shareholders to block the acquisition.
The Abcam-Danaher saga has been one of the more public medical disputes of the year with press releases, LinkedIn posts and interviews coming from both sides to convince shareholders of their position, but it is finally over. Milner announced on his campaign website that he had decided to abandon his efforts after “extensive feedback from the majority of Abcam’s shareholders” that suggests they will vote in favour.
Founder and ex-CEO of Abcam Jonathan Milner began his fight against the takeover in September mere months after suspending his bid to become chairman of the board. He argued and continues to suggest that the deal, which values the UK-based antibody and protein manufacturer at $24 per share, is “subpar”.
While there may be truth in this, shareholders have clearly decided that the risk is not one they are willing to take, which is unsurprising given the lack of other offers. Danaher’s deal valued the company at the higher end of independent valuations and for those without a personal stake in the company has the clear appeal of definite cash now rather than potential cash in the future.
Milner’s dedication to Abcam is clear, so it’s highly unlikely he would have suspended his campaign without strong evidence that the deal would be approved, meaning that Danaher will add the “Amazon of antibodies” to its already impressive roster of medical companies. The company will remain intact as a standalone within Danaher’s Life Sciences division.
Despite the failure of his campaign Milner signed off his statement with a positive note, saying that he “sincerely believe[s] that our campaign has shown that it is possible to stand up to, and call out, an ineffective Board and Management who displayed disregard for the interests of shareholders.”
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This is one of two major shareholder upsets in the medical world this month, following activist investor Carl Icahn’s lawsuit against Illumina over its disastrous takeover of biotech Grail. Whether or not the experienced and monied Icahn will have more success remains to be seen.
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