Abcam soars on £98m US investment

BRITISH biotech company Abcam said yesterday it would buy US peer Epitomics International for $155m (£97.7m) to boost its antibody technology, sending its shares up more than eight per cent.

San Francisco, California-based Epitomics, develops and distributes rabbit antibodies for research and diagnostic applications. It had revenue of $24.7m in 2011.

Abcam’s products cover research areas such as cancer, cardiovascular, immunology, neuroscience, and stem cells.

The British firm said it has put in place a new £20m credit facility to fund the acquisition.

It would issue about 14.5m new shares as part of the deal, which is expected to take up to two months to complete.

Abcam said the cash-and-stock deal would be neutral to its earnings in the first year, but would add to profit from the second year of completion.

Broker Numis advised on the deal, with James Black, Michael Meade and Nick Westlake working to steer an agreement through.

The Cambridge-based company also reported first-half pre-tax profit of £17.6m, up 16 per cent from last year.

Sales jumped 14 per cent to £44.7m

It increased its interim dividend by 16.6 per cent to 1.69p a share.

The idea for Abcam came early in 1998 out of a laboratory in Cambridge University.

The company was formed after current chief executive Jonathan Milner, an academic, formed a partnership with telecoms entrepreneur Dr David Cleevely. Milner re-mortgaged his house to get the company off the starting blocks.