GE acquires 3-tesla magnet maker

August 30, 2000

In a move that underscores its commitment to very high field MRI, GE Medical Systems has acquired the clinical business of Magnex Scientific, a U.K.-based supplier of 3-tesla magnets."We were looking for the right complement and this was it," said Dennis

In a move that underscores its commitment to very high field MRI, GE Medical Systems has acquired the clinical business of Magnex Scientific, a U.K.-based supplier of 3-tesla magnets.

"We were looking for the right complement and this was it," said Dennis Cooke, general manager of global MR for GE Medical Systems. "Magnex is the technology leader in very high field. It has great design and engineering capability."

The acquisition was completed Aug. 15. Unlike other deals that are publicly discussed months in advance, the Magnex acquisition was negotiated in private and not announced until it was final. The sale price was not disclosed.

Not included in the acquisition is the segment focused on making nuclear magnetic resonance instruments designed for laboratory use. This company will continue to operate as Magnex Scientific.

The clinical segment, to be renamed GE Medical Systems Oxford Magnets, will honor existing agreements to supply magnets to groups other than GE, Cooke said. These magnets have been used to make very high and ultra high field MRI systems. Whether GEMS Oxford Magnets will strike such supply agreements in the future is not known, according to executives at the new parent company.

About 50 scientists, engineers, and manufacturing team members will join GE as a result of the transaction. The staff and operations will remain in Abingdon, U.K., and be integrated into GE in ways designed to create economies of scale with other facilities within the parent company.

GE obtains most of its magnets from an in-house factory in Florence, SC. This capability will be augmented by Magnex, which will increase production of its 3-tesla systems to meet rising demand for the very high field MR scanner in production at GE.

"As demand climbs for these systems, we clearly are going to bolster the operational capability we have at Magnex," Cooke said. "We think we can take some of our techniques involving Six Sigma (GE's proprietary quality-control system) and our manufacturing output as they are applied at our Florence plant and apply to them to this operation."

Driving demand for the 3-tesla system, which is the only one cleared by the FDA for widescale sale in the U.S., is demand for high-performance functional whole-body imaging. Another capability, which has yet to be fully realized, is molecular imaging. This application may require field strengths at 4 tesla or higher. Magnex built one such magnet for GE in the past and has made ones up to 8 tesla for other clients.