Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma has entered into an agreement to acquire Ocata Therapeutics, a developer of regenerative medicines for eye diseases, for about $379m.

Under the deal, which is approved by boards of both the companies, Astellas will acquire Ocata through Laurel Acquisition, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding.

Ocata is a biotechnology firm focused on the research and development of new therapies in the field of regenerative medicine, primarily cell therapy addressing unmet medical needs in ophthalmology patients.

"We highly value Ocata’s R&D capabilities, including its world-leading researchers in cell therapy."

The deal will see Laurel offer $8.50 a share representing a 79% premium to Ocata’s share price at the end of 06 November.

Upon completion of the tender offer, Laurel will be merged into Ocata, and any remaining shares of common stock of Ocata will be cancelled and converted into the right to receive the offer price.

The acquisition, which represents a step toward achieving Astellas’ Strategic Plan 2015-2017, also helps in developing new therapies that address the unmet medical needs of patients suffering from severe ophthalmic diseases.

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Astellas president and CEO Yoshihiko Hatanaka said: "We highly value Ocata’s R&D capabilities, including its world-leading researchers in cell therapy.

"We’re confident that we will turn innovative science into value for patients through the creation of new value by combining both companies’ capabilities under ‘One Astellas,’ where Ocata will be taking a key role in Astellas’ R&D in ophthalmology and cell therapy."

In addition, Ocata will allow Astellas to establish a presence in ophthalmology and a leading position in cell therapy.

The tender offer period is expected to start no later than 25 November and will expire 20 business days after its commencement, unless otherwise extended.

If the tender offer conditions are not satisfied, Astellas may be required to extend it under certain circumstances; however, in no event will Astellas be obligated to extend the offer beyond 09 May 2016.