Swiss pharmaceutical major Novartis said today it owns more than three quarters of the shares in UK anti-infective specialist NeuTec, passing the threshold for taking control of the company.

“This will allow for the delisting of NeuTec's shares and completing the acquisition,” said Novartis in a statement.

The drugmaker announced a deal to buy NeuTec for £305 million ($570m) last month as it builds up its presence in the anti-infectives sector, particularly in hospital-delivered therapies. NeuTec’s lead drug is Mycograb, a drug for severe fungal infections such as invasive candidiasis that was submitted for approval in Europe last March. A US filing is due in 2009, and if approved the drug will address a market estimated to be worth around $1.7 billion a year.

Further back in development at NeuTec is Aurograb for resistant Staphylococcal infections – a $1.5 billion market - which us due to be submitted for approval in 2010.

Novartis has identified hospital-based anti-infective therapies as a strategic area for investment, recently acquiring Cubicin (daptomycin), a drug for skin and soft tissue infections via its purchase of Chiron, and signing a deal with Arrow Therapeutics in June 2005 to license small-molecule drugs for respiratory syncytial virus.