Struggling genetic testing company Sequenom, which in 2011 announced plans to create 242 jobs over five years at a new Research Triangle Park laboratory, has put its local operations up for sale as part of a broader cost-cutting effort.
The California-based company announced Thursday that it was seeking a buyer for its RTP lab, which never grew to the size that Sequenom envisioned. Today it employs about 60 workers.
“In making the difficult decision to sell our North Carolina facility, we are working hard to find a buyer that may be able to employ some or all of our team, thereby minimizing the effect on our employees and their families,” CEO Dirk van den Boom said in a statement.
Altogether, Sequenom is eliminating 110 jobs, or roughly 20 percent of its 500-person workforce. The company said its restructuring also includes seeking strategic partners for “non-core assets” and improving the efficiency of its labs.
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Sequenom, which previously announced that it had taken steps to reduce annual costs by more than $10 million, said the new moves would boost annual savings to more than $20 million.
The company plans to shift the lab work done in RTP to San Diego during the first half of this year.
Among the testing done in RTP is the MaterniT21 PLUS test, a noninvasive prenatal test – it’s performed with blood samples – that screens for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.
In the third quarter, Sequenom posted a loss of $9.4 million, versus a loss of $6.1 million a year earlier. Revenue totaled $29.9 million, down 21 percent.
The company’s shares have fallen 70 percent from their 52-week high. The stock closed Friday at $1.34, down 7 cents.
In a November conference call conducted to discuss the third-quarter results, van den Boom foreshadowed the restructuring, saying that the company was reviewing its operations with an eye toward “improvements and changes that we expect will result in better financial performance.”
Sequenom was entitled to receive up to $2.3 million in state incentives over nine years if it met its job and investment targets, but only received one reimbursement of $54,457 under the state’s Job Development Investment Grants program before being terminated.
If the company no longer has a presence in North Carolina – that is, no jobs and no facility, the state would be entitled to recover that money, Commerce Department spokeswoman Kim Genardo wrote in an email.