GE Healthcare late last week announced its intention to enter into a definitive merger agreement with Vital Signs Inc, a global provider of medical products applicable to a wide range of care areas such as anesthesia, respiratory, sleep therapy, and emergency medicine.

The transaction, which is subject to Vital Signs’ shareholder and regulatory approvals, as well as other customary conditions, is expected to close in Q4 2008. The boards of directors of GE and Vital Signs have approved the transaction.

The transaction values Vital Signs at approximately $860 million, net of Vital Signs cash and investments as of March 31, 2008. Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of Vital Signs will receive $74.50 per share in cash for each Vital Signs share they own.