Applied Materials made a bold move this week, snapping up Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates for almost $5 billion in a deal that gives the world's largest chip-equipment maker a critical leg up on competitors building the gear used to make chips for smartphones and other electronic devices.

The $63-a-share price tag represents a 55 percent premium above the $41 a share Varian (NASDAQ: VSEA) was trading at prior to Wednesday's announcement.

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