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Medtronic Buys Brain Treatment Technology Company

NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- Minneapolis-based medical technology company Medtronic (MDT)  announced the acquisition Tuesday of Dutch deep brain stimulation technology company Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation BV, from Wellington Partners, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, Life Sciences Partners, the Wellcome Trust, Inkef Capital and Gilde Healthcare for about $200 million in cash.

Sapiens, of Eindhoven, whose technology could offer hope of better, more-targeted treatments for Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, is developing a system with 40 individual stimulation points. The object is to allow more precise stimulation of the brain and may potentially result in speedier procedures and fewer stimulation-induced side effects. The company was founded in 2011 by Sjaak Deckers, Hubert Martens and Michel Decre.

Deep brain stimulation is an established treatment for Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia, according to a recent statement by Sapiens, which said DBS can be considered as a "brain pacemaker." Mild electrical stimuli are delivered to the brain via implanted leads to reduce symptoms like tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness and impairment of balance. However, SBS' work, some of it in collaboration with other European partners, has been part of a trend for more-targeted treatments

Medtronic said it will retain the Eindhoven site and the staff there, led by CEO Jan Keltjens and complementing its existing research and development facilities elsewhere. It said the acquisition will serve as a global research and development center for Medtronic's neuromodulation business.

"This acquisition broadens our neuroscience leadership position with innovative brain modulation technology that, along with our comprehensive portfolio of DBS solutions, may one day transform the way physicians are able to treat patients with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease and essential tremor," said Lothar Krinke, vice president and general manager of the Brain Modulation business at Medtronic, in a statement.

Medtronic added that the deal is expected to meet its long-term financial metrics and will not impact its fiscal year 2015 earnings guidance.

Wellington, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners and Life Sciences Partners led the spinout of the company from Philips Healthcare in a 13 million euro ($17.6 million) Series A funding round in May 2011, leaving Philips and Ann Arbor, Mich.-based NeuroNexus Technologies as minority investors. Wellcome Trust stepped in with a 3.5 million euro follow-on investment later that year and 7.5 million euros from the Dutch investment group Inkef Capital in February 2013, which was still being classed as an extended Series A investment. Gilde said it had invested in the company in 2013, without going into detail.

Sapiens also received about 6.5 million euros from the Dutch government and various other Dutch investors as well as a $370,000 research grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation at an early stage in the process.

In a separate statement, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners said Sapiens was the 13th of 14 investments in its 2008 life science investment fund BioDiscovery 3 and the sixth exit via a private transaction. Two more have been sold via initial public offerings on the public markets. Meanwhile, Gilde said the sale to Medtronic was the first exit from its $200 million Gilde Healthcare Fund III.

Wellington said it had helped build the management team and assemble an investor syndicate "which financed and supported Sapiens through final stages of product development and to successful first clinical testing of its Parkinson treatment system, which triggered the strategic interest from Medtronic and other potential acquirers."

Medtronic's shares, which are quoted on Nasdaq, were up 0.3%, at $63.79 by midmorning, New York time.

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