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Avacta to Acquire Dx Distributor Launch Diagnostics for up to £37M

NEW YORK — Avacta, a UK-based developer of cancer immunotherapies and diagnostics, said on Tuesday that it has signed an agreement to acquire Launch Diagnostics for up to £37 million ($41.9 million).

In conjunction with the proposed acquisition, Avacta said it plans to raise as much as £62.0 million through various securities transactions.

Launch is an independent in vitro diagnostics distributor in the UK. It has approximately 70 staffers and generated nearly £33.0 million in revenues in 2021, about £14.2 million of which was non-COVID-19 related.

Under the terms of the deal, Avacta will pay £24 million in cash upfront for Launch, along with up to another £13 million based on future business performance milestones.

Avacta said that the acquisition will provide it with established in vitro diagnostic distribution channels in the UK and several other European nations. Avacta currently offers a SARS-CoV-2 antigen test and is developing additional assays based on its Affimer technology. Launch markets over 4,000 products from 31 suppliers, Avacta said.

Once the acquisition closes, Launch will continue to operate as a standalone business at its current location in Kent, with plans for a new facility in northern France.

To finance the acquisition, Avacta said that it intends to raise around £5.0 million through the placement of new ordinary shares at 95 pence apiece, as well as offer existing shareholders another £2.0 million in ordinary shares. The firm is also planning to offer £55 million in convertible bonds and its chairman has agreed to buy 15,000 ordinary shares at the offering price.

"Our vision is to build an integrated, differentiated, global reach IVD business serving professionals and consumers that uses the benefits of [our] Affimer platform to differentiate immunodiagnostic products in a competitive market," Avacta CEO Alastair Smith said in a statement. "This acquisition will add an established distribution channel to Avacta with three decades of customer relationships and deep market knowledge to drive future product development, strategy, and growth."