The new company will be the largest publicly-traded business headquartered in Sonoma County and the county's fifth-largest private employer.
Over the next year, the Santa Rosa campus -- the new company's largest U.S. facility -- plans to add about 80 employees to the 1,175 already based there, Nersesian said. He characterized the new positions as "well-paid, professional jobs," saying that many of the workers will be relocating from other Agilent facilities.
And he reiterated that Agilent isn't planning any layoffs in Sonoma County.
The latest spinoff came about partly because Agilent executives succeeded in their efforts to make life sciences the dominant part of the company. But in so doing, they drew criticism for combining two very different businesses in one company.
Five years ago, 62 percent of Agilent's revenues came from its electronic measurement business. But in the last four years, the company invested $3.8 billion into its life sciences division, compared to about $100 million for electronic measurement, said Nersesian, who currently is chief operating officer at Agilent.
By the end of last year, 52 percent of the company's revenues came from its health care business. Agilent is now categorized as health care company.
The shift attracted an increasing number of big health care investors and their analysts, Nersesian and analysts said. Many didn't know the electronics measurement sector and didn't feel confident estimating the value of that part of the company's business. They began lobbying Agilent's board to break up the company.
Institutional investors, said Nersesian, repeatedly told Agilent executives, "Don't manage my portfolio and tell me that if I buy a health care company, I have to buy an electronics company. Or if I want to buy an electronics company, I have to buy a health care company. So they would much prefer to have pure-play opportunities."
Investor reluctance led Agilent executives to conclude the company's stock was undervalued, possibly by as much as 10 to 20 percent. That would amount to $1.5 billion to $3 billion, Nersesian said.
The Agilent board directed management to prepare a full analysis on a possible spinoff for its Sept. 18 board meeting, where directors approved a separation plan. The decision was announced the following day.
Agilent stock rose 3.4 percent on the news, closing at $50.98 a share, its highest point since 2011. More than 18 million shares changed hands, the stock's busiest day in nearly 11 years.
Lessons learned from tough times
The current spinoff is being undertaken in the shadow of the first split, along with the upheaval that followed.
After leaving Hewlett-Packard, Agilent in 2000 grew to 47,000 employees worldwide. That year the technology sector began a strong contraction commonly known as the dot-com bust. Agilent shed jobs each year for the next five years.