MADISON, N.J. ( TheStreet) -- Quest Diagnostics ( DGX - Get Report) agreed to acquire Celera ( CRA) for $8 a share, or $344 million.

The transaction value is net of $327 million in acquired cash and short-term investments. The price is expected to be reduced further through the realization of a significant portion of Celera's available tax credit and net operating loss carryforwards and capitalized R&D, which totaled $117 million at the end of last year, Quest said in a statement Friday.

"For Quest Diagnostics, this is an important transaction which will further strengthen our leadership position in molecular diagnostics discovery and development and drive sustainable revenue growth," said Surya Mohapatra, Quest's chairman and CEO. "We will gain immediate access to an impressive range of proprietary tests and products, and a strong pipeline of biomarkers for the future."

Celera shares closed Thursday at $6.27.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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