Agilent Technologies’ acquisition of the privately-owned BioTek Instruments, which makes products including cell imaging systems, microplate readers and incubators, is the fourth largest announced this year at $1.2bn – or $1.1bn once Agilent’s expected tax benefits are taken into account. BioTek had sales of $162m in 2018 and is expected to grow at about 10% in 2019, and Leerink analysts point out that the deal is valued at 22x estimated 2019 EBITDA – steeper than the prices Agilent has pursued in the past. Still, the cell analysis technologies that Agilent has picked up will allow it to attract custom from biotechs active in immuno-oncology, cell and gene therapies – areas home to furious activity. The deal is therefore somewhat reminiscent of Thermo Fisher’s move on Brammer Bio in March, since this too was aimed at improving service provision to gene therapy developers. That said, Agilent already had a foot in the door here, having acquired live-cell assay maker Seahorse Bioscience in 2015 and Acea Biosciences, which also has cell analysis platforms for life science research, last year. When the BioTek deal closes Agilent’s cell analysis business will bring in more than $250m a year, the company says.