Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca on Monday said it had agreed to buy US biotechnology company Ardea Biosciences in a deal worth around $1.26 billion (956 million euros). \"AstraZeneca and Ardea Biosciences, Inc. today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement, pursuant to which AstraZeneca will acquire Ardea, a San Diego, California-based biotechnology company focused on the development of small-molecule therapeutics,\" a statement said. \"Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will acquire Ardea for $32 per share which represents a total cash value of approximately $1.26 billion.\" AstraZeneca added that the price represents a premium of 54 percent based on Ardea\'s closing share price last Friday. Under the deal, AstraZeneca will acquire Lesinurad, a product still in development for the treatment of gout but which it believes has great potential. \"The Ardea team has done a great job developing Lesinurad along with a promising next-generation gout programme,\" AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said in the statement. \"These compounds have real potential to benefit patients.\" AstraZeneca, which earlier this year announced plans to axe 7,300 jobs by 2014, is seeking new opportunities amid a predicted drop in group earnings this year as patents on some of its key drugs expire.