International Murex Technologies Corp. on Thursday said it hascompleted the acquisition of Wellcome Diagnostics from TheWellcome Foundation Ltd. for US$27.3 million (15 millionpounds).

"This acquisition will encompass extremely complementaryproduct lines and significant operating efficiencies attributableto economies of scale," said C. Robert Cusick, president and chiefexecutive of Murex (AMEX:MXX).

Shares of the Toronto company rose 50 cents to $15.75.

Wellcome of Dartford, England, sells about 400 medicaldiagnostic products, specializing in mass screening tests for usein large laboratories in the areas of infectious diseases,including hepatitis A and B, HIV and chlamydia. About 25percent of its global sales are to blood transfusion centers.Wellcome had 1991 revenues of $73 million.

Two Murex companies, Murex Biologicals Inc. and DominionBiologicals Ltd., focus on blood bank reagents for use in largelaboratories. These products complement Wellcome's labproducts and could share a single sales force, said Murexspokeswoman Marcia Young.

A third company, Murex Corp., produces a line of rapid tests forsites such as doctors' offices. Murex Corp. is developing a rapidHIV test, currently under Food and Drug Administrationreview, that would complement Wellcome's ELISA andconfirmatory HIV tests. Wellcome's tests aren't sold in theUnited States, "but it would be attractive for us to put themthrough the FDA," said Young.

If the rapid HIV test is approved this year, that plus revenuesfrom the Wellcome acquisition could put Murex into the blackthis year, said Young. For the nine months ended Sept. 30,Murex had a net loss of $4 million, or 42 cents per share, onrevenues of $1.6 million.

Under the purchase agreement, Murex will receive continuingservices from The Wellcome Foundation and access todiagnostic products and technologies emanating fromWellcome's medical research efforts.-- Karen Bernstein

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