PLANEGG/MUNICH (dpa-AFX) - Drug discovery company Morphosys, which is about to be taken over by Novartis, has slipped deep into the red at the beginning of the year. On balance, the loss from continuing operations in the first quarter multiplied from 32.2 million in the same period of the previous year to 311 million euros, as the company, which is listed in the MDax mid-cap index, announced on Monday evening in Planegg near Munich. Morphosys had to contend with a sharp rise in costs, including for provisions and external services in connection with the planned takeover.

The operating loss also multiplied accordingly: after a loss of 56.1 million a year earlier, Morphosys now posted a minus of 264.4 million euros. Meanwhile, sales rose by 13 percent to 27.5 million euros.

"The planned acquisition by Novartis is progressing steadily and we continue to expect it to be completed in the first half of 2024," said Morphosys CEO Jean-Paul Kress in a statement. At the beginning of February, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis announced its intention to acquire Morphosys for EUR 68.00 per share, which corresponds to a total equity value of EUR 2.7 billion. In March, the USA then followed Germany and Austria in granting antitrust approval./ngu/la/jha/