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ThermoTrex makes bid for Bennettto add to holdings in mammography


San Diego firm hopes to expand on success with LoradBennett X-Ray and Lorad have been battling each other in the mammographymarket for years, but that could change in the next two monthsif Lorad parent ThermoTrex gets its wish. The San Diego

San Diego firm hopes to expand on success with Lorad

Bennett X-Ray and Lorad have been battling each other in the mammographymarket for years, but that could change in the next two monthsif Lorad parent ThermoTrex gets its wish. The San Diego subsidiaryof billion-dollar conglomerate Thermo Electron has signed a letterof intent to acquire Bennett.

If the deal goes through, Bennett, of Copiague, NY, would keepits own name and operate as a separate company, similar to ThermoTrex'sarrangement with Lorad, according to a Thermo Electron spokesperson.Bennett president Calvin Kleinman would become president of anew radiographic imaging unit of ThermoTrex. No other detailswere provided.

The deal requires regulatory approvals, including clearance fromthe Federal Trade Commission. A definitive agreement has yet tobe hammered out, according to Lorad president Hal Kirshner.

Lorad, of Danbury, CT, was acquired in November 1992 for $12million and 1.3 million shares of ThermoTrex common stock. TheLorad acquisition was pursued as a means of gaining expertisein the mammography industry and to develop and eventually marketa new type of breast ultrasound scanner dubbed Sonic CT.

Lorad has given ThermoTrex a strong boost in revenues, and addingBennett to the fold would about double the company's annual salesof imaging equipment. The deal would establish ThermoTrex as theundisputed leader in market share for mammography equipment, accordingto Jack Cumming, founder of WDI Capital Markets in Hilton Head,SC.

"It is a great acquisition for ThermoTrex," Cummingsaid. "In number of units, it would probably be double thenext closest competitor, which would be GE."

There is some overlap in product lines. Both Lorad and Bennettoffer digital spot systems for breast biopsy and both are knownto be developing full-field-of-view digital systems. How or evenwhether these technologies will be merged is unknown.

Lorad has focused on high-end mammography systems and minimallyinvasive biopsy equipment. Flagship products include the M-IIImammography unit and StereoGuide biopsy system. Bennett has pursueda similar strategy, but from a different angle. The company hassought to make a name for itself in the manufacture of high-frequencygenerators, as well as the production of cost-effective mammographysystems.

Bennett's varied offerings give ThermoTrex an opportunity todiversify from a strictly mammography product line, accordingto Cumming.

"ThermoTrex would be getting two distinctly different businesses:a mammography business that enhances and expands what Lorad hasto offer, and a radiography business, which includes market positionsin general radiography and chiropractic and orthopedic markets,"Cumming said.

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