US biotechnology group Cephalon is to buy the UK’s Zeneus Pharma for $360 million in a bid to boost sales and ease its entry into Europe’s cancer arena.

Cephalon’s purchase of Zeneus, which was formerly called Medeus Pharma, will significantly expand its product offering, with the addition of Zeneus’ cancer and anti-fungal therapies as well as offices and marketing troops across Europe. The UK firm has 12 marketed products in its portfolio, in addition to several candidates in development, thereby also adding weight to Cephalon’s research pipeline.

The deal, which is expected to complete in the first quarter of next year, should add around $100 million to sales in 2006, be neutral to earnings next year and boost profit from 2007, according to Cephalon.

Commenting on the move, the US group’s chief executive, Frank Baldino, noted: “This agreement will significantly expand our product portfolio in Europe and is consistent with our strategy and recent transactions in the US that create a platform from which we will grow our oncology business. Zeneus Pharma is an excellent strategic fit for our company.”

This marks the latest in a growing stream of consolidation deals in Europe’s biotechnology sector, signifying the current need of the region’s baby biotechs to add muscle to their operations in order to speed up the process of getting their candidates to market.