Nestle SA agreed to buy Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. in a $2.6 billion deal, adding a leader in the treatment of peanut allergies in its biggest health-science push yet.

The Swiss owner of Nespresso will pay $34.50 a share for the U.S. biotech firm, almost triple its market value. Aimmune makes Palforzia, the first regulatory-approved treatment to help reduce allergic reactions to peanuts in children and teens in the U.S.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider has been cultivating Nestle’s health-science arm while shedding slower-growing businesses in areas such as bottled water and sweets. Palforzia, which exposes patients to small doses of peanut protein over time, got approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February.

Nestle shares rose as much as 0.8% Monday morning.

Including a 26% stake that Nestle’s health-science arm already holds in Aimmune, the deal has an enterprise value of about $2.6 billion, the Swiss company said. The price represents a 174% premium to Aimmune’s Friday close. The amount to be paid for the shares is about $1.7 billion, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Schneider has said he is keen to buy more companies after selling Nestle’s U.S. confectionery operations and placing its U.S. ice cream business in a joint venture with private equity firm PAI Partners. Nestle’s cash pile has been bolstered with a $10 billion sale of a dermatology business.

The Vevey-based company has been dabbling in health-science for more than two decades with mixed results. Palforzia is the first health product Nestle with the potential for significant sales. Analysts have estimated its revenue may exceed $1 billion in 2025.

Nestle has been working on the acquisition for three months, Greg Behar, head of its health-science unit, said in an interview. The price is 7% below Aimmune’s 52-week high, and Covid-19 has had a big impact on the business, which began selling Palforzia just as the U.S. was entering lockdowns.

The deal isn’t Nestle’ first foray into medical nutrition. The company acquired Canadian supplements maker Atrium Innovations three years ago in a $2.3 billion deal.

Nestle has also focused on expansion in coffee, splashing out $7.2 billion on the right to market Starbucks products, including coffee capsules for the Nespresso system.

Nestle said it expects the Aimmune deal, which will be financed with cash on hand, to close in the fourth quarter.

Source: Bloomberg

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