Roche’s efforts to snap up US group Ventana Medical Systems have finally paid off, with the groups announcing this morning that they have signed a definitive merger agreement.

Following due diligence testing, Roche upped its offer to wed Ventana to $89.50 a share, valuing the US group at $3.4 billion; this represents a premium of 4.9% to its closing price on January 18, and a substantial 19.3% premium to Roche’s initial offer on June 27, 2007.

Ventana makes medical diagnostic instruments and reagent systems providing automation technology for use in slide-based diagnosis of cancer and infectious diseases. Last year, the group rejected no less than four offers of marriage from the Swiss drugmaker, but it remained steadfast in its quest to purchase Ventana to broaden its own diagnostic offerings and complement its already strong standing in both in-vitro diagnostic systems and oncology therapies.

“We are very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Ventana, commented Roche chief executive. “Our combined company will be uniquely positioned to further expand Ventana’s business globally and together develop more cost-efficient, differentiated and targeted medicines”, he explained.

Drive to strengthen diagnostics
“Small, targeted'' deals are what interest Roche most, Humer stressed in an interview with the Financial Times last year, confirming that the purchase of Ventana is part of the company’s overarching aim to strengthen its diagnostics business as a platform to provide both diagnostic and personalised treatment.

Christopher Gleeson, Ventana’s President and Chief Executive Officer, will continue as head of Ventana’s business and become a member of the Roche Diagnostics Executive Committee. Ventana will stay at its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, and its employees will become part of the combined company.