UPDATE 2-Drugmaker Valeant close to buying Salix - source

Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:02pm EST
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(Updates share activity, adds details about Shire's interest)

By Nadia Damouni

NEW YORK Feb 20 (Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc is close to a $10.2 billion deal to acquire gastrointestinal drugmaker Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd , according to a person directly familiar with the matter.

The agreement with Salix, known for its irritable bowel syndrome drug Xifaxan, for around $160 per share could come as early as next week, the source said on Friday, requesting not to be identified as the matter is confidential.

Spokespersons for Raleigh, North Carolina-based Salix and Laval, Quebec based Valeant declined to comment.

Salix's stock jumped 4.1 percent to $156.97 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

A deal of that size would be the largest ever for Valeant, which lost a takeover contest for Allergan Inc last year. The usually acquisitive Valeant slowed its buying pace dramatically while it pursued Allergan, and Chief Executive Michael Pearson said last month that it would focus in 2015 on buying smaller, private companies. He did not rule out bigger deals, however.

Valeant's New York and Toronto shares rose more than 2 percent.

CNBC first reported on Friday that Valeant was close to a deal with Salix.   Continued...