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Quest Diagnostics has opened its tender offer in an attempt to buy Celera Corp. for $671 million, the company said Monday.

The medical laboratory operator said earlier this month it would pay $8 cash for each share of Calera, a premium of 28 percent at the time. The deal price includes Celera's cash and short-term investments, which total $327 million. Quest values the deal at about $344 million, not counting those items.

The buyout would give the diagnostics company access to proprietary genetic tests and a research and development pipeline focused on cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Quest, which is headquartered in Madison, N.J., said directors for both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close at the end of April.

Celera, based in Alameda, Calif., focuses on sequencing the human genome and identifying links between genetic variations and disease states.

Shares of Quest Diagnostics Inc. fell 11 cents to $54.68 in afternoon trading.

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