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Pall Corp. ends an era with blood-filter tech sale

Larry Kingsley, Pall Corp. president and chief executive.

Larry Kingsley, Pall Corp. president and chief executive. Credit: Handout

Pall Corp.'s decision to sell some of its blood and transfusion assets, for $550 million, marks a shift in strategy for the global filtration maker during its first year under a new chief executive, Larry Kingsley.

The Sunday announcement brings at least a partial end to a blood-filtering technology business created by the company founder, David Pall, a quarter century ago amid growing global alarm about the spread of AIDS and HIV through transfusions.

Pall's leadership on Monday declined an interview request. The company said, in a document prepared for distribution to analysts, that the sale is a good one because it sharpens the company's focus areas of its business that are most likely to grow, and because the blood filtering business is no longer as important to Pall as are other areas.

No decision has yet been made about whether Pall will use the money to buy back shares, increase dividends, or make other use of it, the company said.

Following the asset sale announcement by Pall, trading in the company's stock just after the market opened Monday saw its share price rise 33 cents to $60.74 on the New York Stock Exchange.

It was in 1988 that an industry analyst told Newsday that he was very impressed with Pall Corp's new blood filter that "separates white blood cells and the viruses that cause AIDS and hepatitis from blood plasma." The analyst said Pall Corp., which at that time had about $500 million in annual sales, could expect to make $200 million or so in incremental revenues from the blood filters.

Company founder David Pall himself had invented the filters, Newsday reported in 1990, saying, "Last year the company began marketing a polymer filter designed by David Pall that reliably filters white cells from human blood -- along with the viruses, bacteria and other potentially toxic contaminants that cling to white cells."

The blood-filtering technology was one of the final achievements by David Pall, then in his mid-70s, who had first developed porous stainless steel while working on the U.S. nuclear bomb effort, the Manhattan Project, during World War II. After the war he founded his company in Glen Cove, commercializing the porous steel technology that was based on his discovery of a process of heating powdered stainless steel to just below its melting point. He would soon add to the company's products a range of high-performance filters made with other metals, glass-fiber and plastic-polymer.

Back in the early 1990s, shepherding the new blood-filtering enterprise to a global market soon became the responsibility of Abraham Krasnoff, David Pall's longtime business partner, who had just been appointed chairman of the board. Krasnoff's son Eric later became the Pall Corp. chief executive.

It was Larry Kingsley's appointment in October, 2011, that marked the end of more than 60 years of Krasnoff family leadership at Pall Corp. By that time it had become one of Long Island's largest companies with nearly $3 billion in annual revenue, and one of the world's purification and filtration giants.

Pall Corp.'s decision to sell off the blood assets will transfer 1,300 employees to the buyer, Haemonetics Corp.; Pall's pre-sale numbers have about 500 employees on Long Island and 10,400 others worldwide.

In the transaction Haemonetics will get blood collection, filtration and processing systems and equipment. It will also get manufacturing operations in California, Mexico, Italy and Puerto Rico.

Pall has a market capitalization of about $7 billion and in the past four quarters had income of $322 million on revenue of $2.89 billion.

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