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Caligan takes stake in COVID-19 test maker Fluidigm, may eye changes

05/10/2021 17:11
Caligan takes stake in COVID-19 test maker Fluidigm, may eye changes

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

- Activist investor Caligan Partners built an 11% stake in Fluidigm Corp FLDM.O, which makes a COVID-19 test, and may urge the company to conduct a strategic review and explore a sale of one of its business units, two sources said on Monday.

Caligan, a New York hedge fund co-founded by David Johnson, a former executive at the Carlyle Group, considers the company to be materially undervalued at a time its microfluidics business, which got a boost during the pandemic, is shrinking while its mass cytometry business is growing, according to a person familiar with the hedge fund's thinking

The company's stock price has dropped 14.5% since January even as the pandemic raged and last week the company, valued at $351 million, cut its financial guidance for this year because it overestimated the impact of COVID-19 testing on returns.

Caligan, which invests in biotech and technology companies, in 2019 won two board seats at Amag Pharmaceuticals, helped hire a new CEO, and ultimately helped sell the company.

Between 2015 and 2019, Fluidigm's mass cytometry segment, which helps identify biomarkers to predict diseases and therapeutic effectiveness, grew from $35 million to $73 million. Its microfluidics segment, which makes the COVID tests, shrank to $43 million from $70 million.

On the company's third-quarter 2020 earnings call, CEO Chris Linthwaite forecast "robust demand for testing in 2021" and said the company was "well positioned to be a meaningful market participant in this expansion phase."

A representative for the company was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston
Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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