Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay £13bn for Switzerland's Synthes

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to buy Synthes, the Swiss maker of screws and plates to fix broken bones, for Sfr19bn (£13bn) in the US healthcare giant's biggest-ever acquisition. The deal will boost J&J's orthopaedic business and cushion it from a tide of consumer product recalls and loss of patents on drugs.

The companies said their businesses had little overlap and predicted few job losses. "Orthopaedics is a large and growing $37bn global market and represents an important growth driver for Johnson & Johnson," said Bill Weldon, J&J's chief executive.

The acquisition, which is expected to close by the first half of 2012, is backed by both boards after Synthes announced last week that it was in talks with J&J.