Opko Health Inc. (NYSE:OPK) and Bio-Reference Laboratories, Inc. announced that the companies have signed a definitive merger agreement under which OPKO will acquire Bio-Reference Laboratories. Bio-Reference Laboratories is the third largest full service clinical laboratory in the United States and is known for its innovative technological solutions and pioneering leadership in the areas of genomics and genetic sequencing. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, holders of BRLI common stock will receive 2.75 shares of OPKO common stock for each share of BRLI common stock. Based on a closing price of $19.12 per share of OPKO common stock on June 3, 2015, the transaction is valued at approximately $1.47 billion, or $52.58 per share of BRLI common stock. The Companies expect the transaction to be completed during the second half of 2015. Closing of the transaction is subject to approval of Bio-Reference Laboratories’ shareholders and other customary conditions.

OPKO intends to leverage the national marketing, sales, and distribution resources of Bio-Reference Laboratories to enhance sales of its 4Kscore test, a blood test that provides a patient’s specific personalized risk score for aggressive prostate cancer as well as other OPKO diagnostic products under development.

Through GeneDx, Bio-Reference Laboratories’ genetic sequencing laboratory, and GenPath Diagnostics, its Oncology and Women’s Health business units, Bio-Reference Laboratories has accumulated a vast array of genetic and genomics data that OPKO will make available to industry and academic scientists to enhance their drug discovery and clinical trial programs.

“I have long admired Bio-Reference Laboratories which, for almost 30 years, has enjoyed an impressive record of organic growth through constant innovation and clinical awareness,” commented Phillip Frost, M.D., OPKO’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Bio-Reference Laboratories is a true success story that has culminated in cutting edge diagnostic solutions accompanied by a worldwide franchise in the diagnosis of rare diseases. GeneDx was the first commercial laboratory to offer next generation sequencing for rare disorders and almost a quarter of a million patients have benefited from these services including almost 20,000 patients who have undergone exome analysis. Their newly introduced sequencing services for use in oncology are both innovative and impressive.”

“Over the years we have learned that diagnostics are integral to drug discovery,” commented Marc Grodman, M.D., Bio-Reference Laboratories’ Chairman, CEO and President. “This has never been more apparent than today when new sequencing technologies have afforded us the opportunity to understand the biological basis of disease in far greater depth. At Bio-Reference Laboratories we have prided ourselves in finding disruptive diagnostic solutions that are clinically relevant. Dr. Frost is a visionary in the pharmaceutical world who, during a legendary career, has demonstrated the foresight to see new clinical applications for therapeutics before others. I am thrilled that I will be working and learning from him in the coming years as we seek to leverage our outstanding capabilities to improve lives of patients. In addition to identifying a synergistic partner for the value we have built over the past three decades, we are pleased that our shareholders will be rewarded by being able to share in the upside of the combined company.”

OPKO intends to allow laboratory operations to continue seamlessly but with enhancement from OPKO’s pipeline of diagnostic products. The current diagnostic services of OPKO will be merged with the Bio-Reference Laboratories operations throughout the country. Bio-Reference Laboratories’ national presence will add valuable distribution capability to OPKO’s diagnostic services. Bio-Reference Laboratories is a full service clinical laboratory that can provide key areas of opportunity for OPKO’s services. Moreover, the seasoned management team at Bio-Reference Laboratories will bring valuable market intelligence to the combined operations.

Dr. Grodman continued, “Bio-Reference Laboratories has been a pioneer in commercial laboratory use of next generation sequencing for diagnostic purposes. GeneDx believes it was the first commercial laboratory in the world to offer next generation genetic sequencing panels based on specific clinical symptoms; it has maintained its leadership position in offering advanced panels, sophisticated analysis, in-depth reporting, and by scaling these tools to a high-volume commercial environment. Bio-Reference Laboratories has accumulated a plethora of genetic and genomics data that will be invaluable to the drug discovery programs at OPKO and other drug developers. The Bio-Reference Laboratories data is diagnostic, or disease-related, and therefore provides an important connection between disease, treatment and cure.”

J.P. Morgan acted as the financial advisor to OPKO Health. Allen & Company LLC acted as financial advisor to Bio-Reference Laboratories. Greenberg Traurig, P.A. acted as legal advisor to OPKO and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP was Bio-Reference Laboratories’ legal advisor. (Original Source)

Shares of Opko Health closed yesterday at $19.12 . OPK has a 1-year high of $19.20 and a 1-year low of $8.02. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $15.76 and its 200-day moving average is $12.84.

On the ratings front, Opko Health has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on May 12, Oppenheimer analyst Rohit Vanjani maintained a Hold rating on OPK. Separately, on March 26, Barrington Research’s Michael Petusky initiated coverage with a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $19.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Rohit Vanjani and Michael Petusky have a total average return of 37.8% and 12.9% respectively. Vanjani has a success rate of 79.5% and is ranked #23 out of 3610 analysts, while Petusky has a success rate of 73.3% and is ranked #1113.

Opko Health Inc is a biopharmaceutical and diagnostics company. The Company is engaged in the research and development of pharmaceutical products and vaccines.