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$AZN to Buy $OMTH for $443 Million

“LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca is to buy Omthera Pharmaceuticals for as much as $443 million to build up its cardiovascular drug business, a priority area for Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker.

The acquisition of the U.S.-based specialist in fish oil-derived medicine underscores a drive by newChief Executive Pascal Soriot to revive AstraZeneca’s fortunes through a series of bolt-on deals.

It is his second purchase in the cardiovascular field, following the acquisition last month of AlphaCore Pharma, a small early-stage U.S. biotechnology company.

The latest transaction pitches AstraZeneca into competition with rivals including GlaxoSmithKlinethat already sell heart-friendly fish oil drugs.

Omthera’s leading drug has already completed final-stage clinical tests and has the potential to be combined with AstraZeneca’s blockbuster cholesterol fighter Crestor. Helvea analyst Odile Rundquist said the deal was “a good move as it perfectly complements AstraZeneca’s cardiovascular portfolio”.

AstraZeneca’s sales and profits are falling as older medicines lose patent protection and the company badly needs new products to replace former big sellers like the antipsychotic Seroquel, which lost exclusivity last year.

AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it had entered into a definitive agreement to buy Omthera for $12.70 per share, or approximately $323 million, a premium of 88 percent to Omthera’s closing price on Friday.

In addition, Omthera shareholders will get “contingent value rights” (CVRs) of up to approximately $4.70 per share, or $120 million in total, depending on the success of Omthera’s experimental drug Epanova, for treating patients with very high triglycerides, a type of blood fat that is bad for the heart…..”

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