The UK antitrust regulatory body, the Office of Fair Trading, said yesterday it will examine AstraZeneca’s proposed takeover of Cambridge Antibody Technology to see if it breaches competition rules.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the OFT invited comments on the acquisition, asking particularly transaction was a ‘merger situation’ and if the combination of the two companies would reduce competition in the biopharmaceuticals sector.

AstraZeneca announced on May 15 that it intends to buy CAT in a £567 million ($1.07bn) transaction that values the biotechnology company at around £702 million and will drive the development of biologic drugs at the drug major. The 1,302 pence offer is a 67% premium over CAT’s closing price on Friday May 12.

AstraZeneca now expects a quarter of its pipeline candidates to be biologics by 2010, and the purchase of CAT immediately adds four new drugs in clinical testing, including CAT-3888, an antibody targeting the CD22 receptor in Phase II trials for hairy cell leukaemia, and anti-interleukin-13 antibody CAT-354 for severe asthma, which is in Phase I.