After months of speculation about a rumored sale of its semiconductor unit, Agilent Technologies said this week that it would sell the segment to private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Silver Lake Partners for $2.66 billion.

By shedding a laggard that has been a drag on profitability, Agilent has enabled itself to focus more on growing its Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis group, which will be renamed the Bio-Analytical Measurement business. That segment has been one of the firm's more predictable and profitable businesses.

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