Novartis' proposed $5.1 billion acquisition of vaccine maker Chiron recently cleared an important hurdle, receiving regulatory approval from the FTC.
The FTC granted the firms early termination for the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, satisfying one of the conditions to complete the deal. In light of the FTC's action, Novartis said it expects to complete the transaction in the first half of 2006.
"Planning for the integration of Chiron into Novartis is on track, and this rapid review and approval by the FTC brings us closer to completing this transaction," said Novartis Chairman and CEO Daniel Vasella.
Novartis, which already owns 42 percent of Chiron, announced in October that it would pay $45 per share for the remaining 58 percent of the vaccine manufacturer. The price represents a 13 percent premium over the offer Novartis made in early September for full control of Chiron. Chiron balked at the earlier price, saying the offer was "inadequate."
Financial analysts have said the deal is a smart strategic move for Novartis, as it gives the Swiss drugmaker immediate access to the vaccines market, a sector that has traditionally been a weakness for the firm.