Canadian drugmaker Valeant agrees to buy US rival Salix for about $10 billion in cash

Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. has agreed to buy Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. for about $10 billion in cash.

The companies said Sunday that their boards of directors approved the transaction, which amounts to about $158 per share in Salix stock. With debt, the deal is valued at $14.5 billion.

That's just above Raleigh, North Carolina-based Salix's closing price of $157.85 per share on Friday.

Valeant said the acquisition will create a strong platform for growth, given Salix's focus on developing drugs to treat gastrointestinal diseases.

Valeant said it has no plans to reduce Salix's specialty sales force, among others, but it hasn't determined how many of Salix's primary-care sales staff will remain.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.