Two holders of Celltech Group plc stock reduced their stake in theSlough, England, company, which reported the placement of 12.5million existing shares of its stock with institutional investors.British & Commonwealth Investment Holdings Ltd., which is inliquidation procedures, sold 11 million shares, reducing its holding inCelltech from 19.9 to 4.3 percent. The company, which has had a stakein Celltech since 1989, held 36.4 percent of the company before it wentpublic in December 1993. Montagu Equity Ltd. sold 1 million shares ofCelltech, reducing its holding from 5.6 to 4.1 percent."We have reduced this overhang of stock, in two phases, and thereforeit is no longer an issue," Peter Allen, Celltech's finance director, toldBioWorld. "And in its place we have taken on a new shareholder[Mercury Asset Management plc], the most substantial fundmanagement company in Great Britain."Mercury, of London, purchased 7.5 million shares, a 10.6 percentholding. The shares were traded at 2 (U.S. $3.13), a 2.5 percentdiscount to the market price, Allen said. Celltech has about 70.8million shares outstanding.He said Celltech and Merck & Co. Inc. are in the final stages ofcompleting a deal worth up to 31.5 million (U.S. $49 million) todevelop and market drug compounds for the treatment of asthma. _Jim Shrine
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