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Valeant’s head office in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.'s board has approved a new share buyback program for up to $1.5-billion.

Montreal-based Valeant, Canada's largest publicly listed drug manufacturer, said on Wednesday the securities repurchase program covers convertible notes, senior notes, common shares and/or other debt or shares that could be issued before the end of the program.

The new plan replaces the company's former program, which expired on Nov. 14, 2013.

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Under the previous program Valeant bought 507,957 common shares for a total value of $35.7-million, the company said.

Valeant said that, under the new plan, it may buy up to 16.64 million common shares, representing about 5 per cent of the issued and outstanding shares.

The company has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years through a flurry of acquisitions.

Earlier this month, chief executive officer Michael Pearson said the goal is to become one of the world's top five pharmaceutical companies by market capitalization by the end of 2016, mainly via acquisitions.

Valeant would need a market capitalization of about $150-billion (U.S.) to break into the top five, he said.

The company's current value is in the $40-billion range, putting it in the top 15.

Last year alone, Valeant completed 25 acquisitions, including the purchase of contact lens maker Bausch + Lomb Holdings Inc. for $8.7-billion.

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