Merck KGaA agreed to buy Sigma- Aldrich Corp. for $17 billion in cash to expand in chemicals used in research labs and pharmaceutical manufacturing and reduce its dependence on drug development.

Merck will pay $140 a share, 37 percent more than Sigma- Aldrich’s closing price on Sept. 19, the Darmstadt, Germany- based company said in a statement today. St. Louis-based Sigma- Aldrich will add to Merck’s earnings immediately, according to the statement. Merck’s shares jumped the most in almost six years in Frankfurt.

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