Charles River Laboratories Moves into Cell Therapies with $380 Million Acquisition of HemaCare


As 2019 comes to a close, Charles River Laboratories (CRL) has been busy. Following a partnership with Bit Bio announced earlier this month, this morning, CRL announced the acquisition of HemaCare for approximately $380 million in cash.

California-based HemaCare is a provider of human-derived cellular products for the cell therapy market. The company provides biomaterials, including a wide range of human primary cell types. Also, HemaCare supplies cell processing services to support the discovery, development, and manufacture of cell therapies, including allogeneic and autologous programs. Combined with CRL’s integrated, early-stage portfolio of discovery, safety assessment, and manufacturing support services, the acquisition of HemaCare will create a comprehensive solution for cell therapy developers and manufacturers worldwide to help accelerate their critical programs from basic research and proof-of-concept to regulatory approval and commercialization, the company said in its announcement. For its clients, CRL believes the addition of HemaCare will enhance client retention and accelerate biopharmaceutical clients’ speed-to-market.

As more and more cell and gene therapies are expected to be approved over the next several years, CRL believed now was the time to push into the space. James C. Foster, president and chief executive officer of CRL, said that in order to continue to enhance the company’s abilities to support the research efforts of its clients, CRL needed to expand its scientific capabilities into this high-growth market.

“HemaCare advances the development of life-saving cell therapies through the use of its high-quality cellular products that represent critical inputs to these therapeutics. The addition of HemaCare’s innovative cell therapy products and services to our integrated, early-stage solutions will create a unique, go-to partner for clients to work with Charles River across a comprehensive cell therapy portfolio from idea to novel therapeutic,” Foster said in a statement.

Foster added that HemaCare’s expertise is “well-recognized” and pointed to the fact the company has worked on all of the cell therapy drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to date. He said the addition of HemaCare will enhance CRL’s value proposition for its clients and will also drive profitable revenue and generate value for the company’s shareholders.

The proposed purchase price of $380 million equates to $25.40 per share of HemaCare. That represents a 27% premium to HemaCare’s closing price on Dec. 13. The acquisition is expected to close early in the first quarter of 2020.

For CRL, the acquisition of HemaCare follows a strategic partnership forged with Bit Bio earlier this month. Bit Bio reprograms human cells for use in research, drug discovery, and cell therapies. Through its partnership with Bit Bio, CRL said it will offer clients access to an expanding suite of authentic human cells through their use in target discovery, validation and screening services.

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