Gilead Sciences is planning to snatch CV Therapeutics from under the nose of Astellas Pharma and has had a cash bid, which tops the hostile offer made by the Japanese drugmaker by 25%, accepted by the board.

Gilead says that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire CVT for $20 per share, which values the company at around $1.4 billion. The CVT board has unanimously approved the deal and repeated its rejection of the $16 per share offer made by Astellas.

Astellas’ offer has been on the table since November and the Tokyo-based group had become exasperated by the rejections received from CVT. The company went hostile with its bid and earlier this week unveiled plans to oust chief executive Louis Lange and the rest of the board at CVT.

Now it looks as though Astellas has lost the battle as Gilead has come in with an offer that “represents compelling value for our shareholders”, said Mr Lange. His counterpart at Gilead, John Martin, seemed equally pleased, saying that the acquisition of CVT “represents a unique opportunity to complement and strengthen our growing cardiovascular portfolio”.

Gilead is best-known for its HIV drugs, notably Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/ tenofovir), Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir) and Viread (tenofovir). However, it also markets Letairis (ambrisentan) and Flolan (epoprostenol) for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Also, data from the first of two Phase III trials of darusentan, an oral endothelin receptor antagonist for resistant hypertension, are due to be unveiled in the second quarter of this year.

The transaction is expected to be dilutive to Gilead’s earnings this year, and neutral to accretive in 2010. The Foster City, California-based group said that it intends to finance the transaction through available cash on hand.

The jewel in CVT’s crown is the anti-angina drug Ranexa (extended-release ranolazine) which recently received the thumbs-up in the USA for a new first line indication (chronic angina). Its other marketed product is Lexiscan (regadenoson), an A2A adenosine receptor agonist used as a pharmacologic stress agent, which is marketed by Astellas.

Astellas has yet to respond to the news though it is possible that the firm could come in with a higher offer. However investors in CVT seem to like the Gilead offer and its stock climbed 31.5% to close at $21.04.