By Matthew Willett

Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it will offer 5.5 million shares to the public and advance the distribution date of its previously announced 2-for-1 stock split from Oct. 18 to Oct. 4.

The shares, part of a shelf registration filed in August, are expected to go on the market on the heels of the company's second split of the year. Shareholders will receive two shares for every share they owned Wednesday. The first split was in February.

Millennium's stock was trading at about $97.625 when it disclosed the shelf registration in early August, and at that price a 5.5-million-share offering would have grossed $536.9 million. At Friday's opening stock price of $156.984, the sale would bring in $863.4 million. Millennium shares (NASDAQ:MLNM) fell $10.92 Friday to close at $146.06.

In its SEC filing the company, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., said it planned to offer the shares to fund business or asset acquisition. Millennium has made no announcements concerning a possible acquisition in relation to the offering announced Friday.

The offering, jointly managed by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, includes an option for underwriters to purchase an additional 825,000 shares to cover overallotments. The offering is co-managed by Robertson Stephens Inc. and Credit Suisse First Boston.

This offering effectively empties the shelf of shares awaiting offering to the public related to the Aug. 1 filing. The company had about 92 million shares outstanding as of June 30.

The year has not been a slow one for Millennium, founded in 1993. Highlights include an alliance with Aventis Pharma, of Frankfurt, Germany, worth up to $450 million - that included a $150 million equity investment in Millennium - the company's acquisition of Cambridge Discovery Chemistry from Oxford Molecular Group plc for about $52.7 million, and a January sale of $350 million in convertible subordinated notes.

For the second quarter of this year ending June 30, the company had $46.9 million in revenue, down slightly from the same period in 1999. The company claimed cash and cash equivalents of $644.8 million, however, not including the $150 million equity investment by Aventis.

The alliance with Aventis for anti-inflammatory development and commercialization includes therapeutics aimed at asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

The acquisition of Cambridge Discovery furthered Millennium's medicinal and computational chemistry abilities, adding 85 chemists to the company's rolls, bringing its total head count for scientists to more than 150.

In the clinic Millennium is continuing trials on LDP-02, it's humanized monoclonal antibody for treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, and LDP-341, a proteasome inhibitor.

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