Johnson & Johnson back in ‘exclusive’ talks to buy Actelion

Andrew McConaghie

Johnson & Johnson is understood to have re-entered talks to acquire Swiss specialist pharma company Actelion.

The company last week announced it was withdrawing its interest in the firm after having commenced talks last month.

This looked to have left the way clear for rival bidder Sanofi to make an offer, but J&J clearly have the appetite for the acquisition, despite the ballooning asking price.

According to reports, J&J had offered 250 Swiss francs per share, valuing Actelion at around 27 billion Swiss francs ($26.7 billion).

This was already up on the $17 billion that the deal was estimated to be worth when talks began at the end of last month.

But Sanofi was understood to have entertained making an offer as high as $30 billion.

Sanofi is looking to boost its pipeline after being outbid by Pfizer for cancer drugs firm Medivation earlier this year.

Since missing out on Medivation, which Pfizer agreed to buy for $14 billion, Sanofi’s CEO Olivier Brandicourt has said the company is considering mergers outside of oncology.

Now the Wall Street Journal has reported that J&J has entered into “exclusive negotiations” with Actelion, indicating that Sanofi has once again missed out.

J&J are now expected to pay around $30 billion for Actelion, aimed at maintaining its growth of recent years.

Actelion’s top-selling drug is pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) treatment Tracleer, which is set to earn around $1 billion in 2016.

Two of its pipeline candidates Opsumit and Uptravi – also for PAH – have been tipped for similar revenues in excess of $1 billion a year.

Actelion shares rose 6.4% with the news.

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