Amersham to buy US biological tool firm

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AMERSHAM International, the health science group, is paying up to dollars 69m ( pounds 48m) for an American company that specialises in producing tools for molecular biological research.

United States Biochemical Corporation, based in Cleveland, Ohio, supplies reagents and biochemical products to a range of US pharmaceutical and educational institutions and government agencies.

Its main product is Sequenase, the market-leading enzyme for DNA sequencing, the process of identifying the genetic code.

In the year ended April 1992, USB had assets of dollars 2.3m and made pre-tax profits of dollars 2.2m on turnover of dollars 35.7m. This year it is expected to make pre-tax profits of dollars 3.6m. Amersham said USB's business would benefit from Amersham's greater international sales and distribution network.

The initial consideration, dollars 51.75m, will be in the form of 4.6 million new ordinary shares in Amersham, or 6.5 per cent of the company's enlarged share capital, plus dollars 4.14m in cash.

It is due on completion of the deal, which is expected to be on 2 April. The cash payment is in place of share options in USB held by the management, who are also the company's shareholders.

About 3.6 million of the new shares have been conditionally placed at 712p a share, raising pounds 25.7m. The placing price represents a 4 per cent discount to yesterday's closing price of 739p.