Baxter International Inc. said Tuesday it plans to buy Synovis Life Technologies Inc., a medical device company in St. Paul, for $325 million.

The deal, analysts say, will bolster Baxter's bioscience business, with Synovis providing the Deerfield, Ill. company with its soft-tissue repair technology. Synovis will become part of Baxter's regenerative medicine division, which had sales of $527 million last year.

The acquisition is a good value for Synovis. At $28 a share in the deal, investors got a 52 percent premium over Monday's closing price of $18.44. Synovis shares closed Tuesday at $27.78, a 52-week high.

"It's a good premium," said Matt Dolan, a senior research analyst with Roth Capital Partners. "We recently viewed [Synovis] as undervalued."

Baxter is a global maker of blood products and intravenous drugs. Synovis makes surgical devices, including implantable biomaterial for soft-tissue repair, its signature business. The deal is expected to close early next year.

Synovis CEO Richard Kramp said in an interview Tuesday that the companies haven't decided how they will do the integration, but he indicated that the merged company will maintain a presence in St. Paul. Synovis employs 310 people, with about 200 based in Minnesota.

"Synovis will be a good growth business to [Baxter]," said Kramp, adding that Baxter approached Synovis about doing a deal.

The acquisition will allow Synovis to better compete with its larger rivals. For instance, Synovis employs 72 direct sales people in the U.S. while Baxter's bioscience sales force is more than double that in the U.S.

"It makes Synovis a more viable competitor against these big guys," said Ernie Andberg, a senior research analyst with Feltl and Co.

Ludwig Hantson, president of Baxter's bioscience business, called Synovis' business "highly complementary" to Baxter's biosurgery products. The combination "promises to drive growth and continued innovation in surgical repair," Hantson said in a statement.

The sale caps a remarkable run for Synovis, which has reported 15 straight quarters of double-digit sales growth. Last year, it had sales of $68.5 million. • 612-673-4683 • 612-673-1712