Jazz Pharmaceuticals is to pay about $1 billion to acquire Gentium and get access to the Italian firm's Defitelio, which was recently approved in Europe for a rare liver disease.

Jazz, which is now headquartered in Ireland, is paying $57.00 per share for Gentium, whose shares closed at $55.65 on the Nasdaq last night (December 19). The former will get hold of Defitelio (defibrotide), which was approved by the European Commission in October for the treatment of severe hepatic veno-occlusive disease in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Khalid Islam, Gentium's chief executive, said that Jazz offers "commercial and clinical expertise, and existing multi-national infrastructure", which "will help realise the value of Defitelio". He added that "after thoroughly evaluating our strategic options", the Como-base firm's board believes that "this all-cash transaction is in the best interest of our shareholders and employees".

His counterpart at Jazz, Bruce Cozadd, said the acquisition "would add a new orphan product that has potential for short- and long-term revenue generation". Jazz expects to finance the transaction, which should close in the first quarter of 2014, principally with a combination of cash and proceeds from a $500 million incremental term loan from Barclays.