PNG friend Burnet pulls off asset sale

IT IS not every day an NGO pulls off an asset sale worth more than $400 million, but that’s exactly what the Burnet Institute achieved last week by spinning off its trial support company, 360biolabs, to US-buyer BioAgilytix.
PNG friend Burnet pulls off asset sale PNG friend Burnet pulls off asset sale PNG friend Burnet pulls off asset sale PNG friend Burnet pulls off asset sale PNG friend Burnet pulls off asset sale

Dr Brendan Crabb

Staff Reporter

The Melbourne-based health research organisation has been working hard on Australia's and the region's response to Covid-19, and its chief executive, Brendan Crabb, says this win means the organisation can channel more funds into its important public health missions, writes Natasha Gillezeau for the Australian Financial Review.
 
"Given that we are clearly a public good charitable organisation, it might come as a surprise to people that that is not incompatible with for-profit activity that generates products, services, jobs and income that progresses our mission," he said.
 
These include getting rid of hepatitis C in Australia, a major cause of liver failure and cancer, preventing childhood stunting in countries such as Papua New Guinea and Myanmar, a risk factor for children's cognitive development, and managing Covid-19 locally and abroad.
 
"Our philosophy is that answers to complex problems can be found in science, both in a technical sense but also social science," Dr Crabb said.
 
"It can be anything from very highly technical work, such as what 360biolabs does, right through to how do we encourage people to use insecticide-treated bed nets in a place that has never used insecticide-treated bed nets."
 
Dr Crabb said 360biolabs had laboratories set up to do testing and trials to the medical research standards required by both the scientific community and various international laws. This is what helped make it so valuable in the eyes of BioAgilytix, which paid 20 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to snatch it up.
 
360bioloabs is an important link in the research-to-commercialisation pipeline, as not all laboratories have the safety and security measures in place to conduct clinical trials on dangerous diseases such as Covid-19.
 
Dr Crabb, who has worked in vaccine research for decades, said he can understand why some members of the public might be alarmed by the speed at which Covid-19 vaccines have made it from trial to their local GP.
 
But the reason for this velocity was not anything nefarious but rather one that is pretty simple: money.
 
"When Covid came along, they said money is no object. Of course, if anything had failed at a safety point, you're gone. Safety is not driven by pharma, it's driven by government regulation, and that hurdle is very high," he said.
 
"But about 90% of the speed is to do with guaranteed money, and the other 10% is that the development chain has been strengthening, and 360biolabs is part of that."
 
For BioAgilytix Labs, 360bioloabs' Australian location was also part of the appeal.
 
"This planned acquisition is part of our strategic growth strategy to expand our capacity, expertise and agility to serve customers across all geographies, and we look forward to welcoming the 360biolabs team and integrating the business," BioAgilytix president and chief executive Jim Datin said.
 
"Joining forces makes sense for our two organisations, but most importantly for our combined clients and the patients they serve. BioAgilytix and 360biolabs are already culturally aligned in our focus on doing science right, on time, the first time."

 

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