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New Delhi, Oct 31

THE New Delhi-based Panacea Biotec today maintained that the announcement by Novartis AG to take over US biotechnology firm, Chiron Corp, would be beneficial to its joint venture with the latter in India.

Panacea had entered into a 50:50 joint venture with Chiron last year to provide new-generation combination vaccines in India.

The Swiss pharmaceuticals company today said that it had reached an agreement to complete a takeover of Chiron by acquiring the remaining 58 per cent in the company for $5.1 billion.

The Chiron board of directors approved the merger and recommended that the shareholders take up the offer.

Mr Rajesh Jain, Joint Managing Director, Panacea Biotec, said: "We would be positively impacted by Novartis picking up the balance equity. This takeover is not likely to have any impact on our existing joint venture agreement as Novartis is not a third party to the agreement as it already had a substantial stake in Chiron."

The joint venture company had planned to launch about six vaccines in the next few years.

Chiron is known globally for its influenza vaccines, but its portfolio comprises vaccines against meningitis, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, polio, mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), as well as diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.

On Monday, the Panacea Biotec scrip fell by 4.22 per cent at the BSE to close at Rs 272.50.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 1, 2005)
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