Swiss drug maker Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) says it is paying $470 million to acquire U.S. cancer diagnostic specialist Genoptix Inc.

Novartis has a growing presence in the Research Triangle Park, N.C. area as it continues to build a huge vaccine production plant in Holly Springs.

In December, the company said it would expand that $1 billion vaccine production facility, adding 100 jobs and new facilities. The project will cost $36 million and include a development lad as well as a pilot production plant.

Novartis will receive some $3.7 million in state tax incentives if it meets job growth and other requirements. Among the incentives is a $1 million One North Carolina Fund grant, which requires a local match. Novartis also received a Job Development Investment Grant worth up to $2.7 million. The so-called JDIG is a rebate of employee state withholding taxes.

Novartis said Monday it will pay $25 per share to acquire all of the Carlsbad, California-based company’s outstanding stock.

It says the price represents a 39 percent premium over Genoptix’s share value on Dec. 13, 2010, when rumors of a sale sparked a price surge.

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez says the acquisition of Genoptix will help the Basel-based pharma giant expand its individualized cancer treatment programs.

Genoptix specializes in diagnosing cancers in bone marrow, blood and lymph nodes. It had sales of $148 million during the first nine months last year.

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