BOSTON (

TheStreet

) -- The torrid pace of hepatitis C deal-making continues with

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

announcing Saturday that it will acquire

Inhibitex

( INHX) for $2.5 billion.

Bristol's all-cash tender offer values Inhibitex at $26 per share, or more than two-and-a-half times the company's closing stock price on Friday of $9.87. For all that cash, Bristol gains control of Inhibitex's INX-189, a pill in phase II studies which has the potential to become a component in the first all-oral therapies against hepatitis C.

For the same reason,

Gilead Sciences

(GILD) - Get Report

announced in November plans to acquire

Pharmasset

(VRUS)

for $11 billion. That deal is expected to close next week.

Pharmasset and Inhibitex were the two top-performing stocks in the biopharmaceutical sector in 2011. Hepatitis C stocks have become red hot on takeover speculation, and investors will surely now focus next on

Idenix Pharmaceuticals

(IDIX)

and

Achillion Pharmaceuticals

(ACHN) - Get Report

, both still independent for now.

-- Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston

.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback;

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