LONDON — Quadrant Healthcare, a drug delivery company, said it will buy Andaris Group Ltd. for £13 million and relocate from its present base in Cambridge to Andaris' premises in Nottingham.

Quadrant said Andaris' complementary drug delivery technology could enable the enlarged group to become a leading company in the field. Raj Uppal, finance director, told BioWorld International, "Quadrant had looked at licensing Andaris technology over the past two years. It became obvious that the owner [Gist-brocades International BV, of the Netherlands] wanted to sell. The two companies have complementary technologies and intellectual property, and we believe that Quadrant is in a good position to exploit the joint base."

The acquisition, which is subject to shareholder approval, will be financed by the issue of 16.8 million new shares to existing Andaris shareholders. Shares in Quadrant fell by 13 percent to £0.51 after the deal was announced last week.

Uppal said there were no qualms about moving from Cambridge, where the majority of the U.K.'s biotechnology companies are located. "Other companies may flock to Cambridge, but Quadrant is not in the business of doing the same as other companies," he said. The opportunity to move into Andaris' premises was an added attraction in the acquisition. "We did flag in our listing details the need to find new premises," Uppal said. "This has moved us forward two years in property terms." Quadrant floated on the London Stock Exchange in February.

Both companies currently have about 65 employees. Uppal said some attrition was expected as a result of the move, and there may also be some redundancies. "We are confident we have the necessary skills base within the two companies," he said.

Andaris' core technology is a spray-drying process that produces microcapsules of discrete particle size. The company has applied the technology to the development of cardiovascular diagnostic imaging products and an artificial blood platelet product. The company's Quantison diagnostic imaging product is in Phase II, while its platelet substitute is still in preclinical development. Insulin for pulmonary delivery is also in preclinical development.

The company was set up in 1989 as Delta Biotechnology Ltd. by Bass plc, a U.K. brewing company, and was subsequently acquired by the industrial and medical gases company BOC plc. The name was changed to Andaris in 1994, following a management buyout. In 1997, the firm incurred a net loss of £5.6 million on turnover of £162,000, and forecast further substantial losses for the next three years.

The acquisition provides Quadrant with access to established medical, regulatory and quality control expertise, which it would otherwise have had to develop on its own over the next two years. It now intends for the joint company to concentrate on platelet and platelet substitute delivery; inhaled therapeutics; oral drug delivery; and diagnostics. *