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The most robust year for mergers and acquisitions since 2000 continued in spite of the break for the Christmas holiday.

Four companies on Tuesday announced deals together worth more than $1bn (£577m, €843m) in the insurance, biotechnology and telecommunications sectors.

Fidelity National Financial, which owns the largest US title insurance group, agreed to acquire Sedgwick CMS Holdings, the insurance claims company, for $635m in a cash and credit deal.

Applied Biosystems, maker of gene-analysis equipment, agreed to pay $273m in cash for the research unit of Ambion, which specialises in DNA research products.

Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, has bought a 12 per cent stake in gene-research company Perlegen Sciences for $50m.

Pfizer has agreed to buy up to an additional $25m of Perlegen stock if the company goes public next year.

And telecommunications company Nortel has agreed to acquire router maker Tasman Networks for $99.5m in cash.

Merger volume of announced deals for December last week reached $134.2bn, making it the third-biggest month so far this year in terms of dollar value - and there are still business days left in the year

The insurance and telecoms sectors have seen rapid consolidation this year with major deals.

MetLife paid $11bn to purchase Travelers Life & Annuity and SBC made its $24bn acquisition of AT&T.

Fidelity National’s purchase of Sedgwick CMS allows it to cross-sell products and enter the market for third-party administration services, which it values at more than $2.5bn.

Sedgwick CMS is expected to generate nearly $400m in revenue this year.

Nortel plans for Tasman’s internet protocol routers to help customers converge network services onto one platform.

Buying Ambion will allow Applied Biosytems to expand growth by making products used in gene research, which the company estimates is a $500m market that is growing more than 10 per cent each year.

Pfizer’s investment in Perlegen aims to study genes associated with diseases and identify genetic markers that may predict patient response to medicines.

Brad Margus, chief executive of Perlegen, said: “Drugs developed based on genetic information will be directed more specifically towards the patients who are most likely to benefit from them.”

In addition to Pfizer, Affymetrix, Maverick Capital, CSK Ventures, Eli Lilly and other investors have taken major stakes in Perlegen.

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