IAF Biochem International Inc. said Wednesday it has signed anagreement in principal to acquire for $11.4 million a majorityinterest in two Italian companies active in the diagnosticsfield.

IAF, located in Laval, Quebec, will acquire 70 percent of theshares of IFCI CloneSystems SpA and Chemila SpA, bothsubsidiaries of privately held IFCI Holding International SA ofBologna, in a stock-for-stock transaction.

IFCI Holding will receive 525,000 shares of IAF BioChem stockpriced at Tuesday's close of $21.75 (C$25) on the Canadianexchanges. IFCI also has a two-year option to buy a 150,000more shares of IAF stock at $28.28.

Francesco Bellini, IAF's president and chief executive officer,told BioWorld that IAF is primarily interested in thecompanies' distribution networks in Italy and Spain. Inaddition, Chemila manufactures the only fully automatedmachine for ELISA diagnostic tests. "We make a very goodELISA kit, and we needed a machine to go with it," Bellini said.

CloneSystems makes a line of diagnostic kits to detecthormones and distributes diagnostic kits manufactured byother companies. CloneSystems and Chemila have currentcombined annual revenues of about $10.4 million.

The transaction is subject to financial audit, due diligence andapproval by regulatory authorities and stock exchanges.

IAF stock (NASDAQ:BCHXF) closed Wednesday on the NASDAQexchange at $21.38, down 38 cents.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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