A Spanish company on Wednesday became North Carolina's largest biotechnology company and a major Triangle employer after its $4 billion takeover of Talecris Biotherapeutics won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators.
Grifols closed the deal, which was announced a year ago, and officials expect to begin the process of combining the two companies shortly.
Talecris employs more than 2,000 people in the Triangle, and Grifols has said it plans to slash $230 million in costs as its integrates the two companies. Any job cuts will likely hit harder at Talecris' Research Triangle Park headquarters, not at its massive drug-manufacturing facility in Clayton.
"They want to get some synergies and reduce costs," said John Putnam, an analyst who follows Talecris shares for Capstone Investments in SanDiego.
"You don't need a high-paid CEO to run a division of your company," Putnam said.
Indeed, Talecris CEO Lawrence Stern told employees at a meeting last week that he will step down once the deal closes.
Other executives also are expected to leave or get laid off as Grifols brings in its own managers.
But Grifols officials aren't disclosing much about what happens next. They didn't want to jump the gun on making integration plans before securing approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and completing the acquisition.
"We'll provide more details as they become available," Talecris spokeswoman Becky Levine said.
In an internal memo to Talecris employees Wednesday, CEO Victor Grifols said that he plans to meet with them next week.
"One of our immediate tasks is to change our mindset from being competitors to being colleagues," he wrote. "That means ... collaborating in new ways that will allow us to fully realize the benefits of our combined organization."
In a separate memo to Talecris workers Wednesday, Stern wrote that he thinks "there will be minimal redundancy across the organization," but he didn't rule out layoffs.
"In an ideal world no one would be impacted by the change, but we know in these type situations there is always some overlap," he wrote.
If Grifols phases out the Talecris brand, as expected, it will be the third name for the business in the past six years. In 2005, two investment firms bought Bayer's blood-plasma business and renamed it Talecris.
In September 2009, Talecris' stock made its Wall Street debut on the Nasdaq, in one of that year's biggest initial public offerings of stock. The shares, which began trading at $19 each, closed Tuesday at $28.80. Grifols new U.S. shares are expected to begin trading this morning.
The ownership changes also reflect the increasing globalization of business.
At the drug factory along U.S. 70 in Clayton, hundreds of Germans worked for years under Bayer, and they became part of the Johnston County community by playing in soccer leagues and more. Then Australia's CSL nearly bought the company in 2009.
Now Grifols is likely to bring in managers and other workers from Spain as it takes over.
Grifols and Talecris make medicine from blood plasma, used to treat a wide range of diseases, including hemophilia and various immune system deficiencies.
Buying Talecris gives Grifols, which has a large share of the market in Europe, a stronger foothold in North America.
Talecris' Clayton plant, which is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar expansion, is a key piece of Grifols' strategy.
Talecris announced a $270 million expansion in November 2009 that will create more than 250 jobs. State and local government officials promised the company tax breaks and other incentives worth as much as $20 million.
That financial assistance will transfer to Grifols if it continues to meet hiring and investment goals.
The union creates the world's third-largest maker of medicine from plasma, after Baxter International of Illinois and CSL of Australia. CSL's offer to buy Talecris was blocked in 2009 by the FTC, which was worried about consolidation leading to higher prices for medicine.
To win FTC approval, Grifols agreed to sell a smaller Talecris drug plant in New York, the rights to one of Talecris' drugs, and plasma-collection centers in Mobile, Ala., and Winston-Salem.
The FTC staff recommended approval of the deal last month, and Grifols announced early Wednesday that the full commission will sign off on it, after a 30-day public comment period.
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