Roche Forces Merger With Ventana Medical Systems

Swiss pharmaceuticals maker has acquired the majority of Ventana shares and expects to force through a merger with the U.S.-based maker of drug testing equipment.

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Pharmaceuticals maker Roche Holding AG said Tuesday it is poised to complete its acquisition of Ventana Medical Systems Inc.

Basel-based Roche said it has acquired 93.7 percent of Ventana shares and expects to force through a merger with the U.S.-based maker of drug testing equipment without the approval of the remaining shareholders.

Roche won approval for the deal from Ventana's board in January after raising its offer per share by about 19 percent to US$89.50, valuing the American company at US$3.4 billion (euro2.35 billion).

''We are happy to officially welcome Ventana's employees to the Roche Group and will begin the integration of our businesses immediately,'' Chief Executive Franz Humer said.

Ventana, which has 800 employees and achieved sales of US$238.2 million (euro164.5 million) in 2006, will keep its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. The company develops and sells instruments and chemicals used to automatically prepare tissue samples for cancer screening and the testing of new drugs.
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