April 21, 2010 / 5:20 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-BioMerieux expands in genomics as Q1 sales rise

* BioMerieux buys 10 pct stake in Knome for $5 mln

* CEO to get Knome board seat; no other terms disclosed

* Q1 sales rise 7.2 pct to 306.6 mln euros, goals confirmed

(Adds CFO comments from conference call, analyst)

PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) - French in vitro diagnostics company BioMerieux (BIOX.PA) said it had bought a 10 percent stake worth $5 million in Knome as part of an exclusive deal to use the U.S. human genomics company’s analysis platform in diagnostics.

BioMerieux said separately on Wednesday its first-quarter sales rose 7.2 percent to 306.6 million euros ($412.6 million), or 6.4 percent at constant exchange rates and scope, driven by emerging markets while Europe and the United States grew moderately.

“We confirm our objective of achieving around 7 percent organic sales growth in 2010, supported by our broad geographic diversification,” Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said in a statement.

BioMerieux has been expanding its innovation and international development through bolt-on acquisitions in China and partnerships with companies like Philips Electronics (PHG.AS) to develop fully automated handheld diagnostic tests for hospital use.

U.S. company Knome provides genome sequencing and analysis services for biomedical researchers and families seeking to understand the genetic underpinnings of disease.

Under the agreement with Knome, BioMerieux has the right to designate one director for election to the Knome board. This seat will initially be held by CEO Bancel. No other details of the deal were released.

“The deal with Knome allows the group to strengthen its position in molecular biology and to create diagnostic tools for tomorrow,” CM-CIC Securities analyst Arsene Guekam said in a research note. He said BioMerieux’s sales were in line with expectations.

BioMerieux shares were flat at 85.70 euros at 0831 GMT.

BioMerieux expects to benefit from the U.S. healthcare reforms as diagnostics can help determine the best choice of treatment for a patient, which can contribute to keeping healthcare spending in check, as well as aid in the fight of nosocomial infections acquired in hospitals.

“We see it as a positive element for BioMerieux,” Chief Financial Officer Henri Thomasson said on a conference call.

Each year nearly 2 million patients in the United States get infections in hospital and about 90,000 die from them, BioMerieux says on its website.

BioMerieux tests screen for bacteria that have become resistant to treatment. ($1=.7431 Euro) (Reporting by Caroline Jacobs; editing by David Cowell and Karen Foster)

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