Pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo- SmithKline is planning to sell Affymax, the US chemicals library and drug discovery company it bought in 1995 for $553m.
GSK has refused to comment on the sale, but industry watchers say that the company has been approaching potential buyers in the US.
'All we can say at the moment is that the plans have not been confirmed,' a GSK spokesman said.
The sale would highlight GSK's intention to streamline the company following the recent merger between Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. It also makes sense as GSK has integrated much of Affymax's technology into its own laboratories.
The sale price is expected to be roughly $400m. It should be lower than the 1995 price as GSK has spun a gene chip-maker called Affymetrix and a biotech firm called Maxygen out of Affymax since then.
GSK is expected to sell a majority stake in Affymax within the next few months. It is understood that a number of venture capital groups have expressed an interest.