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Pa.-based BioTelemetry sold for $2.4 billion to med-equipment giant Royal Philips

BioTelemetry — which employs 1,900 people at its Malvern, Chester County, offices; Linwood, Delaware County, warehouse; and other operating and sales locations — went public in 2008.

BioTelemetry, based in Malvern, has been acquired by Dutch medical equipment giant Royal Philips.
BioTelemetry, based in Malvern, has been acquired by Dutch medical equipment giant Royal Philips.Read moreBioTelemetry Inc. (custom credit)

One of the Philadelphia area’s most successful medical device makers has convinced a European company 50 times its size that its stay-at-home heart monitors have a big future.

Royal Philips NV, the Netherlands-based medical equipment maker, has agreed to pay $2.4 billion for Malvern-based BioTelemetry Inc., which designs and markets wearable Holter heart sensors, BioTel monitors, and other systems designed to track patients and alert doctors to any problems outside the hospital.

The deal — worth $2.8 billion if debt and cash are added to the share price — will bring a profitable end to 24 years as an independent company for BioTelemetry, founded in 1994 as CardioNet. Philips expects cost cuts to help make the deal profitable.

BioTelemetry, which employs 1,900 at its Malvern, Chester County offices; Linwood, Delaware County warehouse; assembly plant in Eagan, Minn.; and other locations, went public in 2008, just before the Great Recession.

The company, then based in Conshohocken, had hired hundreds of salespeople based on expected government insurance reimbursement projections that proved overoptimistic. CardioNet laid off hundreds in the late 2000s, and in 2010 hired Joseph H. Capper, a former Bayer executive who had built and sold two diabetes therapy companies, as chief executive.

Capper renamed and reorganized the company, and acquired a series of device manufacturing and technology companies, which made sales and marketing more efficient and boosted revenues and profits.

The sale price of $72 a share represents a 16% premium to BioTelemetry’s recent stock-trading value, but still short of its record $72.76 closing last February. The price swings reflect the industry’s volatility at a time when investors have been betting billions on new firms and technologies, but also reacting swiftly to economic slowdowns or product complications that may delay expected profits.

BioTelemetry sales totaled $440 million last year, and have been flat for most of this year, compared with last year. The company has been profitable each year since 2017. Royal Philips sales topped $20 billion in 2019.

Beneficiaries of the sale, which Philips hopes to close early next year, will include major BioTelemetry shareholders such as the BlackRock and Vanguard funds, along with chief executive Capper, who was paid $4.1 million in cash and stock last year and owns company stock worth more than $70 million at the sale price.

The deal is a windfall for BioTelemetry directors, who were paid more than $200,000 a year to attend meetings while amassing stock options. Board chairman Joseph Frick, former chief executive of Independence Blue Cross, controls 55,000 shares of stock worth $4 million at the sale price; Rebecca Rimel, past chief executive of the Pew Charitable Trusts, held 111,000 shares worth $8 million, according to last spring’s report to shareholders.

Philips’ U.S. operations include a research center in Cambridge, Mass., an ultrasound equipment factory in Reedsville, Pa., north of Harrisburg, and factories in Maryland, Massachusetts, and other states.

In a statement, Philips chief executive Frans van Houten called BioTelemetry “a strong fit with Philips’ cardiac care portfolio,” adding that he expects BioTelemetry’s home monitoring products will boost Philips’ hospital-based products and its Philips HealthSuite digital platform, which it says serve hospitals with 300 million patients a year. “Our collective expertise” will boost profits, he added.

Capper called BioTelemetry ”the world’s largest remote cardiac monitoring services network,” and predicted its purchase will help Philips broaden its focus from hospital-based care to better “address the rising demand for telehealth and remote monitoring solutions.”

Philips plans to add BioTelemetry to its Connected Care business group. In a statement to shareholders, Philips promised to cut costs at BioTelemetry, boost sales more than 10% a year, and boost operating profit margins above 20% by 2025.