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Roche buys Genentech for $46.8 billion

Swiss drug maker Roche has struck a deal with shareholders to purchase biotech group Genentech for $46.8 billion (SFr54.11 billion).

Board members at Genentech, a California-based company, agreed to sell Roche all outstanding shares for $95 each in cash. It is one of the most expensive deals in the history of the Swiss economy.

The deal ends a drawn-out battle that began last year and turned hostile for several months after Roche's initial bid was rejected. The financial crisis then struck, casting doubts about the takeover.

Roche later increased its offer after meeting with Genentech investors. The new deal gives the Basel-based firm 44 per cent of Genentech that it did not already control and creates a sales force of about 3,000 people.

Roche will now control Genentech's popular cancer drugs Avastin and Herceptin. Executives estimate annual revenues from the two companies should be around $17 billion.

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