Spanish healthcare company Grifols has agreed to purchase the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) donor screening unit from US-based Hologic for $1.85bn in a cash-based transaction.

Grifols will acquire the Hologic unit tasked to conduct research, development and manufacture of assays and instruments based on NAT technology which are used to sensitively detect infectious agents in blood and plasma donations thereby ensuring safe blood transfusion.

It helps in minimising the interval between donor exposure to a virus and production of antibodies against the virus.

"We believe that the business and our blood screening employees are best positioned to succeed under a single owner."

The NAT assays are mostly used to detect critical infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), West Nile virus, Parvo/ hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Zika.

Under the agreement, Grifols will assume a fully paid-up license right to certain Hologic's intellectual property for use in the blood screening field. 

The acquisition will result to transfer of about 175 people to Grifols who were mainly involved in operations and research and development, along with Hologic's blood screening manufacturing facility in the US. 

While the engineering expertise to develop the fully automated TIGRIS and Panther systems will be retained by Hologic, it will partner with Grifols to ensure blood screening customers continue being benefitted by the technology for a long term.

Hologic chairman, president and CEO Steve MacMillan said: "Divesting our share of our blood screening business to Grifols will strengthen our efforts to build a sustainable growth company by accelerating top- and bottom-line growth rates, while significantly increasing financial flexibility.

"We are immensely proud of the contributions we have made to global blood safety over nearly 20 years. 

"But at the same time, we believe that the business and our blood screening employees are best positioned to succeed under a single owner, and that this sale to Grifols provides excellent value for Hologic and our shareholders."

Approved by the board of directors of both the companies, the transaction is expected to be completed early next year.

During the transaction, Hologic will be served by Morgan Stanley as the financial adviser and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as the legal advisor.

Osborne Clarke, SLP and Proskauer Rose will serve Grigols as legal advisors and Nomura as a financial advisor.