The Federal Trade Commission cleared the way for Roche HoldingLtd. to acquire Syntex Corp. after the Switzerland-based drug companyagreed to sell Syntex's U.S. medical diagnostics business, Syva Co.,within the next 12 months.FTC approval of the merger was the final obstacle. Roche now cancomplete its existing tender offer to purchase all outstanding Syntexstock for $24 per share as announced in May. Syntex, of Palo Alto,Calif., has 221 million shares outstanding.Roche already has tendered offers for 57 percent of Syntex's stock.The purchase of the tendered shares is to be complete within fivebusiness days of the offer's expiration at midnight today. The merger isexpected to become final Oct. 31.In June, the FTC asked Roche for additional information to completean antitrust investigation. Syntex spokeswoman Kathleen Gary said theFTC apparently required Roche to sell Syva Co. after deciding that thecombination of Syva and Roche Diagnostics would result in Rochereceiving too much market share in the business of testing drugs ofabuse.Gary said the FTC approval does not require other modifications foreither company. _ Charles Craig

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