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Vertex, Aurora Deal Clears Antitrust Hurdle

NEW YORK, July 6 – The proposed acquisition of Aurora Biosciences by Vertex Pharmaceuticals has cleared a significant hurdle with the deal being cleared by the United States Federal Trade Commission, the companies announced Friday.

The FTC granted clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The deal is still subject to approval by the companies’ shareholders at meetings scheduled for July 18.

In late April, Cambridge, Mass.-based Vertex and San Diego-based Aurora announced the $592 million stock-for-stock deal. The companies said that each share of Aurora common stock will convert into 0.62 shares of newly issued Vertex common stock.

Following the acquisition, Aurora will operate as a fully owned subsidiary of Vertex. The companies expect the deal to close in the third quarter of 2001. 

The deal is designed to help Vertex expand its drug discovery program into additional gene families, notably g-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and ion channels, two areas that Aurora has targeted. Vertex also expects Aurora's high throughput screening capabilities to help the company identify drug targets in the kinase gene family as part of a research collaboration with Novartis. 

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