Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) said Thursday that its life sciences subsidiary, Verily, will sell a minority stake to Singaporean firm Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd. for $800 million. Alphabet management said on an earnings call after the close Thursday that Temasek, which is owned by the government of Singapore and has investments throughout Asia, would help Verily grow outside the U.S.
Formerly known as Google Life Sciences, Verily is part of Alphabet's Other Bets division, a disparate and ambitious group of companies that has seen some cutbacks recently.
Verily makes money by licensing and research and development services. The company is developing a disposable glucose monitoring device the size of a bandage with DexCom Inc. (DXCM) and conducting multiple sclerosis research with Biogen Inc. (BIIB) .Alongside Verily, Other Bets includes Google Fiber broadband provider, aging research and therapeutics Calico, smart-thermostat and home products maker Nest, technology development lab X, investment firms Google Ventures and Google Capital, among other businesses. In the fourth quarter, Other Bets revenue increased from $150 million to $262 million, with Nest, Google Fiber and the Verily contributing to the growth. The group posted a nearly $1.1 billion operating loss.
Temasek's investments include Alibaba Group Holdings Inc. (BABA) and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. Most of its portfolio companies are in Singapore or China, though the firm opened a San Francisco office in 2016 and says it has an increased interest in North American technology companies.
Alphabet—a holding in the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio, which is managed by Jim Cramer, founder of The Deal's parent, TheStreet Inc. (TST)—has been scaling back some of the units in Other Bets. The company cut jobs and slowed broadband deployments at Google Fiber in October, shut down dronemaker Titan Aerospace this month and is shopping its Terra Bella satellite imaging business.
The company appears to be taking a more "austere" approach to its ambitious moonshot businesses, Wells Fargo Securities LLC analyst Peter Stabler wrote in a preview of Alphabet's fourth-quarter earnings. "We expect that [Alphabet] may have more to say about its approach to 'Other Bets' on the 4Q earnings call," he wrote.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP Alison Ressler, Jason Anderson, Anel Loubser, Nader Mousavi and Andrew Mason advised Verily.
Ethan Klingsberg of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP provided counsel to Alphabet.
Temasek retained Susan MacCormac of Morrison & Foerster LLP.
—David Marcus contributed to this report.