Merck KGaA agreed to buy AZ Electronic Materials SA for about 1.6 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) in cash to add chemicals used in the electronics industry.

AZ stockholders will receive 403.5 pence for each share, the Darmstadt, Germany-based drug and chemical company said in a statement today. The price is 53 percent above the closing level yesterday in London trading.

The purchase of Luxembourg-based AZ will give Merck a business making chemicals for electronics, adding to its unit that provides liquid crystals for flat-screen displays.

“With this strategic move we are strengthening the portfolio of Merck by adding a premium business to our existing business of high-margin specialty chemicals,” Karl-Ludwig Kley, Merck’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “AZ complements our existing activities in the display industry by adding attractive electronics chemicals with a similar business model.”

The acquisition is contingent on approval by antitrust authorities and a minimum acceptance level of 95 percent of the shares, Merck said.

(Source: Bloomberg)