updated 5/15/2006 8:19:14 AM ET 2006-05-15T12:19:14

AstraZeneca PLC said Monday it is acquiring full control of Cambridge Antibody Technology Group PLC in a 567 million pound ($1.07 billion) deal intended to secure the drugmaker's pipeline of new products.

The 1,320 pence ($25.02) per share offer values Britain's largest biotech company at about 702 million pounds ($1.33 billion), a 67 percent premium over its closing share price on Friday. AstraZeneca already held a 19.2 percent stake in the company.

Cambridge Antibody Technology helped codevelop Humira, a blockbuster drug for rheumatoid arthritis marketed by Abbott Laboratories of the United States.

The deal gives AstraZeneca the royalties on the sales of Humira, as well as milestone payments and royalties on other CAT-licensed products.

It will also give the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker access to CAT's pipeline, which includes CAT-3888, in phase II development for cancer, and CAT-354, an asthma drug currently in phase I trials.

Analysts were unimpressed. Navid Malik at Collins Stewart said AstraZeneca paid too much considering the quality of drugs in CAT's pipeline. "It was already collaborating with Cambridge Antibody, so why did it have to buy it?" Malik said.

"None of CAT's projects are going to fill the big near-term gaps in AstraZeneca's pipeline," said Paul Diggle, an analyst with London-based brokerage Nomura Code Securities.

Shares of London-based AstraZeneca fell 1.2 percent to 2,823 pence ($54.50) in trading on the London Stock Exchange. Shares of Cambridge Antibody Technology, based in Cambridge, Britain, rose 63 percent to 1,287 pence ($24.39).

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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