Fujifilm powers medical unit with $753 million Sonosite buy

Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:17am EST

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(Reuters) - Japan's Fujifilm Holdings (4901.T) will buy U.S.-based medical equipment maker SonoSite Inc SONO.O for about $753 million, as it beefs up its lifescience business to meet the growing demand from an ageing population in Japan and the United States.

Fujifilm has been forming partnerships within the country and outside, to strengthen its healthcare and biopharmaceutical business, as demand for its mainstay photo film paper business weakens amid increasing use of digital cameras.

Last month, the company said it will set up a joint venture with Kyowa Hakko Kirin (4151.T) to develop biopharmaceuticals, mainly those with expired patents.

Fujifilm also has a joint venture with India's Dr Reddy's Laboratories (REDY.NS) that will develop generic drugs for the Japanese market -- the world's second-largest after U.S.

Under the terms of the deal with Sonosite, FujiFilm, will pay $54 a share in cash, a 28 percent premium to Wednesday close on Nasdaq. Including debt, the deal was valued at $995 million.

Fujifilm, which competes with the scandal-riddled Olympus Corp (7733.T), said the SonoSite deal has the backing of the boards of both the companies.

After the completion of the deal, SonoSite, which makes ultrasound and cardiograph equipment, will become a unit of Fujifilm, and will continue operations in Bothell, Washington.

Last month, a source told Reuters that SonoSite was holding an auction to sell itself and that it had hired JPMorgan to run the sale.

Shares of Sonosite leaped 27 percent to a lifetime high of $53.58 on early Thursday morning trade on Nasdaq. Fujifilm closed at 1,841 yen in Tokyo on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh and Jochelle Mendonca in Bangalore, and James Topham in Tokyo; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Hezron Selvi)