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Catalan pharmaceutical corporation Grifols has signed a deal with US company Hologic to acquire its donor screening diagnostic unit, which they previously held as a joint venture, for €1.75 billions. The operation includes the NAT technology, which makes it possible to detect infectious diseases like Zika with a blood and plasma test.

Grifols, which has managed commercialization of this business line belonging to Hologic through a joint venture since 2014, will now be engaged in researching, developing and manufacturing reactives and instruments based on NAT technology. This tool makes it possible to detect infectious agents in blood and plasma donations, which contributes to greater safety in transfusion diagnostics.

Under the framework of this deal, which is expected to be closed in the first quarter of 2017 with the unanimous approval of the Board of Directors at both companies, Grifols will also get the production plant in San Diego, United States, as well as the development rights, licenses to patents and access to product manufacturers.

Chairman and CEO of the group Víctor Grifols explains that this operation falls under the growth strategy for the Diagnostic Division, which began in 2014 when the company acquired the Novartis transfusion diagnostics unit for €1.24 billions. This unit now accounts for 16.5% of the company’s turnover. "This is the last acquisition that I announce as CEO,” Víctor Grifols said in a company press release. He will be leaving this position at the end of the year.

Grifols will finance the acquisition with a $1.7-billions loan underwritten by Nomura and the existing cash on the company’s balance sheet. It will also absorb the professionals from Hologic’s diagnostic area into its workforce, which will increase by 175 employees.

Tests using NAT technology, based on analyzing nucleic acids, have consolidated their place as the state of the art for detecting infectious agents in blood and plasma donations, making them useful in identifying infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis C and Zika.

Grifols and Hologic were granted FDA approval in October 2016 for their Procleix Zika Virus test to detect Zika. They are one of the few suppliers selected by the US government, along with Roche, which could lead to huge profits for the Catalan firm, as the American government is looking to change its protocol and start requiring the test be performed on all blood donated countrywide. 

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