Volpara Health Technologies to be acquired by South Korea’s Lunit in $300m deal, boosting global AI expansion

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By Colin Hay - 
Volpara Health Technologies ASX Lupin takeover

South Korean medtech company Lunit has moved to acquire 100% of the shares of ASX-listed Volpara Health Technologies (ASX: VHT) after the pair agreed to the terms of a $300 million takeover.

The move to acquire NZ-headquartered Volpara is seen by the South Korean group, which specialises in the medical application of artificial intelligence (AI), as a major launching pad to further global expansion plans for its unique technology.

Lunit’s flagship INSIGHT suite has already received Food and Drug Administration approval and is clinically used in more than 3,000 hospitals and medical institutions across 40-plus countries.

Volpara is a global leader in software for the early detection of breast cancer.

The company believes the merger will allow Lunit’s in-house radiologists and complementary technologies to strategically augment Volpara’s repository of more than 100 million images through additional AI expertise and solutions.

Volpara board backing

The company’s board is unanimous in its support of the scheme implementation agreement with Lunit, under which the South Korean company has agreed to acquire all of Volpara’s shares at a price of $1.15 per share in cash.

Cornerstone Volpara shareholders Harbour Asset Management, non-executive director Roger Allen and Volpara founder Ralph Highnam – who currently hold or control in aggregate 25.92% of Volpara’s issued capital – have confirmed they will vote the shares they hold or control in favor of the scheme.

Volpara shareholders will now be asked for their approval for the takeover at a special meeting to be held in early Q2 2024.

Compelling value-add opportunity

Volpara chair Paul Reid said the company’s board has assessed the proposed scheme as providing compelling, risk-adjusted value and certainty for shareholders and unanimously supports the proposed transaction.

“In considering options for Volpara, including continuing to implement the company’s growth strategy as a publicly listed company, the board adopted a long-term view of the risks and rewards of various alternatives,” Mr Reid said.

“The proposed transaction would accelerate the return of capital to shareholders and mitigate the risks that would otherwise be involved in delivering the opportunities from executing Volpara’s strategic plan over time.”

Important step

Lunit believes the merger will provide an important step in the company’s journey towards conquering cancer through AI.

In a note on its website, the company said the Volpara acquisition would enable Lunit to expand into a platform company leveraging Volpara’s connection to a large install base in the US and allow it to execute its Data-AI platform direction.

“Lunit and Volpara are unified in our belief in the power of AI-driven software and together our two organisations have the potential to create a powerful engine to better diagnose and care for cancer worldwide,” Lunit chief executive officer Brandon Suh said.

“Volpara’s established presence in the US and Lunit’s complementary global footprint and AI expertise will create a compelling portfolio of advanced AI-enabled solutions for radiology and other healthcare specialties,” he added.

“Together, we have the potential to accelerate meaningful products to market that will save lives and benefit medical practices as we jointly pursue our shared vision of conquering cancer through AI.”