Nestlé is buying the maker of a peanut allergy drug for children for $2.6 billion as it deepens its focus into health care and nutrition. The world’s largest food and beverage company plans to acquire Aimmune\n \n (AIMT), a Brisbane, California-based biotechnology firm that earlier this year received US Food and Drug Administration approval for Palforzia, a drug designed to help children build up their immune response to peanuts, ideally lessening the occurrences and severity of a reaction. Nestlé estimates that 240 million people globally have food allergies, with one of the most common being peanut allergy. The company, via its Nestlé Health Science division, has made investments into researching and developing food allergy-related products. In 2016, Nestlé Health Sciences invested $112 million to develop a cow’s milk allergy test. That same year, it also made its first investment in Aimmune. Since that time, Nestlé Health Sciences has invested a total of $473 million in the biotechnology firm, resulting in a 25.6% equity stake. In recent years, Nestlé ramped up its push to focus on “nutrition, health and wellness” and made moves such as selling its US candy business — and products like Goobers chocolate-covered peanuts — to Ferrero for $2.8 billion in 2018. Under the cash transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, Nestlé will pay $34.50 per share for Aimmune, nearly a 175% premium to the $12.60 closing stock price on Friday. Nestlé’s offer comes at a good time for Aimmune, which paused the commercial launch of Palforzia because of Covid-19’s disruptions in health care, Kennen MacKay, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, wrote in a research note Monday. The bid from Nestlé is a “near best-case resolution” to Aimmune’s challenges, he wrote. MacKay estimates that Palforzia has a market potential north of $1.8 billion in global sales.