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IDT on deck
March 2012
by David Hutton  |  Email the author


CORALVILLE, IowaóWith a goal of expanding its reach into Southeast Asia, Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) has acquired 1st BASE Pte. Ltd., with IDT picking up the oligonucleotide business of Singapore's top supplier in the field. Terms of the acquisition have not been released.  
With the completion of the deal, IDT will offer locally manufactured oligos to researchers in Singapore and throughout the region from the company's first synthesis facility in Asia.  
Trey Martin, IDT's chief operating officer, says IDT chose 1st Base as its partner in Asia for three reasons, each reinforcing the others.  
"Most important is that the people at IDT and 1st Base share a basic philosophy about how best to serve the research community with the highest quality custom products, delivered as quickly as possible, and at a price that enables new and innovative research," he says. "Second, IDT had been working with the 1st Base team for several years, and we were therefore comfortable making colleagues of our collaborators. In many ways, the acquisition represented a deepening of an ongoing partnership between our two companies. Finally, we know that IDT's long term growth depends upon offering the IDT advantage directly to researchers, locally."    
Martin also points out that the existing relationship between IDT and 1st Base was critically important to making the acquisition possible.  
"The long relationship between the people on our teamsónow the same teamówill be even more important to ensure the success of our business in Asia," he says. "We found that common commitment in 1st Base and, frankly, only in 1st Base. Without the opportunity to begin our investment in Asia with 1st Base as our partner, IDT would have likely taken the task alone."  
From synthesis facilities in Iowa and California, IDT is able to reach its research customers in North America with local-level sales and customer service, and to provide them with market-leading turnaround time.   
"When IDT began synthesis operations in Leuven, Belgium, we achieved the same ability to serve researchers throughout Europe, including with local-language technical customer service and sales support," says Martin. "Our acquisition of 1st Base is a very large first step toward bringing all of what IDT has to offer to researchers throughout Southeast Asia, with the same expert, local-language customer service and quick turnaround time that our customers in North America and Europe currently enjoy."  
In recognition of 1st BASE's leadership among the region's oligo providers, IDT has named its new company in Singapore 1st BASE Custom Oligos Pte. Ltd. (FBCO), and IDT will retain the "1st BASE" brand for the small scale DNA oligos that it synthesizes in Singapore. Kok Choy "KC" Lee, 1st BASE's CEO, has become the general manager of FBCO and a member of IDT's leadership in Asia. 
The Asian market has a strong attraction for IDT as the company looks to serve its customer-collaborators in life sciences research and to grow its business.   
"Achieving those goals means being close to researchers where investment in the life sciences is also growing, both in absolute and in relative terms," says Martin. "North America and Europe will always be very large markets for IDT's custom biology products, because both public and private investments in the life sciences will continue to drive economic growth there."  
At the same time, the company expects that life-sciences investment in Asia has entered a long period of sustained increase that will likely outpace the rates of growth elsewhere, both in the public and private sectors. 
"Asia is also quickly developing into an innovation leader," notes Martin. "IDT's philosophy has always been to encourage innovation by reducing the cost of the highest quality products needed for basic research. If we can offer to researchers in Asia what we've successfully provided to all our customers for over two decades, we're confident that IDT can grow in and with Asia as the region cements its place as a global center for life sciences research."  
Looking toward the future, Damon Terrill, IDT's general counsel for international matters, says the company is always looking for new opportunities with the right partners.  
"At the same time, our experience shows that acquisitions succeed only when integration succeeds," he says. "That requires the focused investment of time and resources, most importantly human resources. IDT's team will thus concentrate for some time to come on making 1st Base Custom Oligos an integral part of our global business, and as our first priority in Asia."  
Mark Campbell, who leads IDT's sales efforts in Asia and who will serve as FBCO's managing director, says IDT will gauge the success of the acquisition by its success in growing sales in the region.  
"We have a lot of investment ahead of us in synthesis facilities, training, and integration.  But we are starting right away to develop new sales channels," he says.   IDT expects to achieve rates of growth in Asia similar to what its European business has achieved since 2008, when it began local synthesis operations in Belgium.   
"We get there by persuading customers of the IDT advantage, then delivering that advantage to them as they invest in new and more innovative research," concludes Campbell. "Asia will doubtless present unique challenges, as do all new markets. But we're confident that the basic formula for IDT's success elsewhere in the world will work in Asia, too."
Code: E031220



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