Days after having a bid accepted to get full control of Genentech, Roche has hit the acquisition trail again though on a much, much smaller level.

The Basel-based group has signed a definite agreement to buy Innovatis, a privately- held company based in Germany. The Bielefeld-headquartered firm provides “automated cell analysis solutions”, especially focusing on cell counting, viability testing and cell function analysis in research, as well as bioproduction.

Roche is shelling out 15 million euros for the firm and Juergen Schwiezer, chief executive of its diagnostics unit, said the acquisition “is a further step in our strategy to strengthen our position as a complete solution provider in the cell analysis research market”. He added that Innovatis’ technology will complement the existing Roche cell analysis portfolio “and is synergistic to the xCELLigence technology launched in 2008”.

The deal is expected to be completed within the next few weeks, subject to shareholder approval and regulatory clearance.

Meantime Roche chairman Franz Humer has said that the firm expects to pay off the debt it took on to fund the purchase of the 44.2% stake in Genentech it did not already own by 2012/13.

He told the Swiss paper SonntagsZeitung that the initial interest bill would be $1.5 billion before tax and "by 2012/13, we will be free of debt again as before, if nothing serious arises in the meantime".
Roche raised $39 billion on the bond markets to fund the $46.8 billion purchase.