Genzyme Corp. is boosting its DNA diagnostics services with aproposal to purchase Phoenix-based Genetrix Inc. in a stock swapvalued at about $39 million.

Genetrix, whose primary business is genetic prenatal and cancertesting, will be merged with Genzyme's Integrated Genetics division.

The addition of privately held Genetrix, which has five laboratoriesnationwide and 240 employees, will boost annual revenues ofIntegrated Genetics' diagnostic business by $24 million to $75million. Genzyme's total revenues for 1995 were $377 million.

The merger is expected to be complete next month. Under terms ofthe acquisition, Genzyme will issue 545,000 shares to Genetrixstockholders as long as Genzyme's trading price does not dip under$67.28 per share.

Based on the $72 closing price Wednesday of Genzyme's stock(NASDAQ:GENZ), the deal is worth $39.2 million. Genzyme endedthe day down $1.

If Genzyme's stock declines below $67.28 before the merger iscomplete, the number of shares issued for the acquisition increases toa maximum of 765,000.

Shelia Shuster, spokeswoman for Genetrix, said 80 percent of thecompany's business is prenatal testing for genetic defects, such asDown's syndrome and spina bifida. The other 20 percent involvesgenetic cancer testing for adults.

She said Genetrix, which was formed in 1988, recently added aclinical services division geared toward managed care organizations.The division primarily works with pregnant women, offering them arange of services, including genetic testing and counseling.

Genzyme's Integrated Genetics division conducts genetic testing forsuch disorders as cystic fibrosis and Gaucher's disease. It also owns agenetic identity testing company, Genetic Design Inc., for forensicpurposes.

The division's newest product is a Multiple Allele-SpecificationDiagnostic Assay, which can analyze DNA samples for more than100 mutations in a single test.

Integrated Genetics also is conducting research on fetal cellseparation for prenatal genetic testing.

In October 1995 Genzyme, which owned nearly 70 percent ofIntegrated Genetics, purchased the remaining outstanding shares for$21 million. The deal completed a buy back of Integrated Geneticsby Genzyme, which acquired the genetic testing company in 1990and took it public.

Cheryl Greenhouse, spokeswoman for Genzyme, said IntegratedGenetics has eight facilities nationwide and 377 companies.

In merging Genetrix with Integrated Genetics, Greenhouse saidGenzyme will consolidate duplicate operations, but no decisions havebeen made on closing facilities or layoffs. n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.