Indiana-based Elanco Animal Health (ELAN.N) on Tuesday acquired the veterinary drugs unit of German drugmaker Bayer AG in a deal valued at $7.6 billion. The cash and stock deal makes Elanco the second-biggest name in veterinary medicine behind Zoetis.

Elanco, which completed its initial public offering in September 2018, said the Bayer deal would join two "complementary animal health-focused entities previously under the human pharma umbrella into a dedicated company focused on delivering for farmers, veterinarians & pet owners,” said Jeff Simmons, Elanco's president and CEO, in a Twitter post.

The transaction is expected to be completed by mid-2020.

"It's very much strengthening and accelerating the current strategy that we have," said Simmons, in an interview with Bloomberg. "It all comes back to this: society's never cared more than it does today about the well-being of pets. Today, when you look at that, we bring a long heritage at Elanco focused on the veterinarian."

The breakdown of Bayer’s payout includes $5.3 billion in cash and $2.3 billion in Elanco stock, valued at $33.60 a share. By an Elanco’s estimate, this amounts to 68 million shares, or about an 18.2 percent stake in the company.

According to Reuters, part of the motivation for the deal on the part of Bayer is to put a dent into its $63 billion debt, which it incurred following the takeover of controversial seed-producer Monsanto last year. Bayer is facing lawsuits over its allegedly carcinogenic weed-killer, Roundup. Analysts estimate that settlements could total $5-10 billion.

Bayer has also recently parted with its brands Coppertone and Dr. Scholl’s, as well as 60 percent of its stake in a chemical plant.

The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the Bayer Healthcare subgroup production plant in Wuppertal, Germany, Feb. 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender