updated 6/16/2005 8:30:18 AM ET 2005-06-16T12:30:18

Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drug maker, agreed on Thursday to acquire Vicuron Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of new anti-infection medicines, for $1.9 billion in cash, the companies announced.

Under the merger agreement, Pfizer would purchase outstanding Vicuron stock at $29.10 per share, an 84 percent premium over its closing price on Wednesday and a 74 percent premium to the stock’s three-month average closing price.

Vicuron, based in King of Prussia, Pa., develops anti-infectives for both hospital- and community-acquired infections.

The deal gives New York-based Pfizer two products under review for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: anidulafungin for fungal infections and dalbavancin for skin and soft tissue infections. Sales of Pfizer’s anti-fungal Diflucan are down following expiration of its U.S. patent last year.

“This transaction builds on Pfizer’s extensive experience in anti-infectives and demonstrates our commitment to strengthen and broaden our pharmaceutical business through strategic product acquisitions,” said Hank McKinnell, Pfizer chairman and CEO.

“We are pleased to have a world leader in anti-infective medicines, with a long history of success in the area, introduce these product candidates into the market”, said George F. Horner III, president and CEO of Vicuron.

Pfizer and Vicuron already are collaborating and have made significant advances in the discovery of potential next-generation oxazolidinones, the first new class of antibiotics in more than 30 years.

Vicuron had about 60.86 million shares outstanding as of March 31. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2005.

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