Vectura is buying fellow UK biotech Skyepharma in a deal worth around £441 million, to create an industry-leading airways-related specialist with a pro-forma market capitalisation of around £1 billion.

The move to bring together the two companies' complementary inhaled formulation, development regulatory and device expertise provides a series of enhanced platforms to accelerate growth in the inhaled respiratory market along with providing shareholders with a broader product and development portfolio.

According to the firms, the combination will create a stronger scaled business which has the ability to accelerate the delivery of both companies' strategic objectives and deliver greater revenues and value. Directors believe the merger will be revenue-enhancing and accretive to Vectura's earnings in the first year, bringing both sets of shareholders substantial synergy benefits.

On deal completion, Vectura will appoint Frank Condella, Skyepharma's chairman, as vice-chairman of the Enlarged Group, and Thomas Werner, a non-executive Skyepharma director, as a non-executive director of the new firm. Andrew Derodra, Skyepharma's chief financial officer, will also retain his position, but Andrew Oakley, Vectura's finance director, and Peter Granta, Skyepharma's boss, are to leave.

Commenting on the move, Bruno Angelici, Vectura’s chairman, said it will “create a business with the technology and capabilities, financial profile and scale to deliver attractive, consistent returns to shareholders,” while SkyePharma’s chairman Frank Condella called it “a highly synergistic, value-enhancing transaction that will establish an industry leader in the development of inhalation products”.