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Celltech, the biotechnology company, is to be acquired by UCB of Belgium for £1.53bn.

Celltech is investing £5m at its pharmaceuticals factory in Ashton-under-Lyne, which will involve upgrading its sterile production capabilities.

Celltech is to acquire Thiemann, the German pharmaceuticals marketing company, for £31m, and is also buying an undisclosed stake in Neogenesis of the US and the rights to the drug discovery technology of Abgenix.

Celltech is planning to increase its US salesforce by 40% to 400, having won approval to launch its Metadate hyperactivity drug.

Celltech is looking to strengthen its biotechnology business by making technology and product acquisitions, and is particularly interested in expanding in the US.

Celltech has announced a licensing deal with Pharmacia of the US for the development of a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and will receive an upfront payment of £34m.

Celltech has sold Armstrong, the supplier of aerosol inhalation products, to Andrx Corporation of the US for £12m.

Celltech has formed an alliance with Abgenix of the US that will give it access to new technology for the development of antibody-based medicines.

Celltech has sold Rapigene, its US-based gene analysis contract service, to Qiagen for £7.3m.

Celltech has acquired Medeva for £554m, which will enable the company to distribute its pharmaceutical products through its own salesforce rather than licensing them.

Celltech is selling Celltech Biologicals to Alusuisse-Lonza of Switzerland for £50m.