J&J in takeover talks with Actelion – reports

Shares in Switzerland’s Actelion are soaring following reports that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has approached it with a potential takeover bid.

Bloomberg reported that talks are at an early stage and that Actelion is working with an adviser to explore options, and discussions may well come to nothing.

But the reports sent shares soaring by almost 14%, to around 180 Swiss francs – nearly £143 – on the Swiss stock exchange.

There have been rumours for years that Actelion could be taken over and, in 2010, the company successfully fought off a bid from Amgen and, later, an attempt by a hedge fund to gain seats on the company’s board.

Sales of Actelion’s Tracleer (bosentan) for pulmonary hypertension (PAH) could fall during the first quarter next year because of generic competition.

At the same time Opsumit (macitentan), the company’s next-generation PAH drug, is expected to become a blockbuster next year.

Sales of the company’s other new PAH drug, Uptravi (selexipag) are also expected to exceed a billion dollars per year in 2019.

At the beginning of this year, J&J said it was looking for acquisitions with more than $18 billion in cash it has amassed.

However J&J said it would be patient and its past record suggests it does not like to overpay – in March last year it tried to buy cancer drug firm Pharmacyclics.

But J&J did not want to stump up the $21 billion AbbVie parted with to close the deal.

JP Morgan Asset Management strategist, Mark Richards, told CNBC news that share prices in healthcare companies had been low prior to the US election.

But Donald Trump’s presidential election victory has eased concerns over an attack on drug prices in the US.

Healthcare companies are attractive for investors as they are in one of the few sectors with reasonable long-term growth prospects, said Richards.


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