BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The torrid pace of hepatitis C deal-making continues with Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) 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) 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), both still independent for now. -- Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Adam Feuerstein. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/adamfeuerstein. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com. Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.