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Belgian cyclotron company IBA produces growth with acquisitions

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Firm quadruples revenues over past three years For an aggressive company looking to increase revenues quickly, the cyclotron market might begin feeling a bit cramped after a while. In order to speed up its growth rate, Belgian cyclotron

Firm quadruples revenues over past three years

For an aggressive company looking to increase revenues quickly, the cyclotron market might begin feeling a bit cramped after a while. In order to speed up its growth rate, Belgian cyclotron manufacturer Ion Beam Applications (IBA) has begun looking for acquisitions in other business segments, such as radiation therapy and industrial sterilization. The strategy is producing results: IBA plans to record $130 million in revenues in 1999, compared with $30 million in sales in 1997.

IBA was founded in 1986 by a group of researchers from the University of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium. The founders believed that they could produce a cyclotron that was more appropriate for medical applications than the research-type units that many facilities were using to produce radiopharmaceuticals. The company’s first product was Cyclone 30, a cyclotron targeted at medical usage with an energy level of 30 million electron volts (MEV).

Cyclone 30’s claim to fame was that it was far more efficient than other cyclotrons then available. Its productivity level was five times that of other commercially available systems, while its energy consumption level was three times lower, according to René Andre, communications manager for the company, which is still based in Louvain-la-Neuve. The systems found favor with industrial producers of radiopharmaceuticals, such as Nycomed Amersham, Mallinckrodt, and Du Pont, and led IBA to claim a 90% market share of the medical cyclotron market, Andre said. IBA has installed 70 cyclotrons around the world.

IBA began its acquisition drive late last year with the goal of expanding its position in its three main market segments: medical imaging, high-end radiation therapy, and industrial sterilization/ionization. The company in December acquired Scanditronix, the Swedish PET and cyclotron pioneer. The Scanditronix deal boosted IBA’s position in dosimetry systems, which are used in radiation therapy to calibrate equipment and ensure that patients receive the correct radiation dose. IBA also acquired Scanditronix’s electron accelerators for medical sterilization applications.

In April, IBA complemented its Scanditronix purchase with the acquisition of Wellhöffer Dosimetrie of Schwarzenbrùck, Germany. Like Scanditronix, Wellhöffer specializes in dosimetry products, and IBA merged the operations of the two companies into a new group, although each firm is remaining in its respective location. Other recent acquisitions include Griffith Micro Science, a Chicago-based sterilization services company, and Radiation Dynamics, an Englewood, NJ, company that builds and markets linear electron accelerators for industrial ionization uses.

IBA’s strategy behind the acquisitions is to build the company into a single-source provider for all of a facility’s needs in its three main business segments of PET compound production, medical sterilization, and radiation therapy, Andre said.

“Our strategy is to offer customers global solutions, rather than making them work with different suppliers. A customer would come and find with us a complete solution, a turnkey system delivered in medical sterilization,” Andre said. “The same goes for PET compound production—we are able to offer turnkey solutions. That is what customers want.”

© 1999 Miller Freeman, Inc.All rights reserved.

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