Medtronic Acquires Ablation Frontiers, Sequenom and Exact Sciences Go a Second Round, Qualcomm CEO Reflects on Strategy, & More San Diego BizTech News

1/20/09Follow @bvbigelow

It was like a real-world version of a TV game show in San Diego last week, with some companies announcing a “deal”—and some saying “no deal.” Let’s get on with the show:

—Minnesota’s Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) gladdened the hearts of investors in Ablation Frontiers of Carlsbad, CA, by agreeing to pay $225 million upfront to acquire the cardiac device company.

—In the “No Deal” category, the board of Marlborough, MA-based Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) started the week by rejecting a buyout offer from San Diego diagnostics firm Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM). Sequenom announced two days later it plans to acquire all shares in the cancer test maker’s common stock anyway. Stay tuned, because this one is far from over.

—In a bit of corporate self-reflection, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs says the San Diego wireless technology company—which controls almost 9,000 patents—is “much more about working with other companies” today. Jacobs added that Qualcomm’s legal battles with its rivals, which amounted to a “religious war,” were over.

—San Diego’s Fallbrook Technologies says the $25.4 million it landed in its first round of venture funding is a testament to the strength of its revolutionary got an adjective/gearless or something transmission technology. Cleantech fund NGEN Parnters and the Netherlands’ Robeco Cleantech private equity led the investment.

—San Diego-based Anaphore also raised $25 million in a first venture round to develop a new class of protein therapeutics the company calls Atrimers. The investors included 5AM Ventures, Versant Ventures, and Apposite Capital.

—The venture outlook for 2009 was permeated by a kind of irony, as VCs told a gathering of San Diego software entrepreneurs that their odds for getting funding were never very good in the first place.

—San Diego biotech Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB) got a boost after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drug for treatment of fibromyalgia, a painful condition involving connective tissue.

—With chipmaker Intel reporting a 90 percent decline in fourth-quarter profits, San Diego laser-maker Cymer (NASDAQ: CYMI) says it’s making some cutbacks, including a 10 percent trim in its workforce. Cymer makes specialized lasers used by chipmakers.

—The father of the cell phone, Martin Cooper, says he anticipates the advent of Google’s Android operating system will accelerate a wireless revolution in the development of “open access” wireless networks.

—San Diego’s Burnham Institute of Biomedical Research says it has signed an institution-wide partnership with Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceutical Research and Development. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

—Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB), with big R&D operations in San Diego, announced some encouraging results from a pair of mid-stage trials of an experimental drug being considered to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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