The deal is the latest in a growth by acquisition spree that has seen Fisher absorb microbiology group Oxoid and nucleic acid specialist Dharmacon this year for $410 million, and Perbio in 2003 for more than $700 million.
In the process, it has shifted its business model from one of being mainly a distributor of other companies' products to one that makes 40 per cent of its own range. Adding in Apogent has raised that proportion to around 60 per cent, said the company.
In the stock-for-stock exchange, Apogent shareholders received 0.56 shares of Fisher Scientific common stock for each share of Apogent common stock they owned.
With the merger, Fisher adds Apogent's microscope slides, glass tubes and vials, test kits, diagnostic dyes, beakers, bottles, environmental and safety containers, hot plates, shakers and stirrers to its product portfolio. Fisher markets a range of reagents and consumables and laboratory workstations.
The combined company will be called Fisher Scientific International and will have annual sales of around $5.7 billion, spanning research and drug discovery, biopharmaceutical production, diagnostics, and a $1.1 billion offering in life sciences. It employs about 17,200 people worldwide.
Fisher's customers include pharmaceutical and biotech companies; colleges and universities; medical-research institutions; hospitals and reference labs; quality-control, process-control and research and development labs in various industries.
"Together with Apogent, Fisher has an enhanced position in key life-science markets and a stronger platform for future growth," said Fisher chief executive Paul Montrone.
Integration plans include the elimination of some 50 duplicated corporate-level positions between Fisher and Apogent. Frank Jellinek, president and CEO of Apogent Technologies, will become chairman emeritus of Fisher's 10-member board of directors.