As had been widely rumoured, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International is buying Salix Pharmaceuticals in a deal valued at $14.5 billion.

The highly-acquisitive Canadian firm is paying some $10.4 billion in cash, or $158 a share in cash, plus the rest of the amount being assumed Salix debt. the transaction is valued at about $14.5 billion. For its money, Valeant is getting hold of a portfolio of 22 drugs, which include the antibiotic Xifaxan (rifaximin), the opioid-induced constipation treatment Relistor (methylnaltrexone) and Apriso (mesalamine) for ulcerative colitis.

Valeant chief executive Michael Pearson said the growing GI sector “has attractive fundamentals and Salix has a portfolio of terrific products that are outpacing the market in terms of volume growth and a promising near-term pipeline”. The combination is expected to yield over $500 million in annual cost savings within six months of closing.

The acquisition comes after Valeant made repeated attempts to acquire Allergan, which was subsequently snapped up by Actavis. Indeed, both the latter and Allergan had been touted as potential purchasers for Salix, as had Shire.

In another twist, Salix had agreed to merge with a unit of Italy's Cosmo Pharmaceuticals in July, a deal which would have allowed it to locate to Ireland for tax purposes. However that was called off due to legal changes in the USA aimed at curbing tax inversions, and Salix will get its Irish base now with Valeant.

Valeant also unveiled its fourth-year financials which show that net income reached $534.1 million, compared to $125.0 million in the like, year-earlier period. Revenues rose to $2.28 billion, up from $2.06 billion.