J&J aims to build vaccines biz around Crucell

While Johnson & Johnson fights fires within its consumer drugs unit, it's looking to branch into the vaccines business. J&J says it's close to reaching a deal for Crucell, the Dutch vaccines maker, for €1.75 billion ($2.29 billion). The company already owns almost 18 percent of Crucell, but wants full control, so it can build a vaccines business around that core, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Johnson & Johnson is a large pharmaceutical company that doesn't have a vaccine branch and vaccines are our claim to fame," Crucell CEO Ronald Brus tells the WSJ, "so for us, it's ... very encouraging[.]" J&J says it will keep Brus and other senior management and maintain its existing facilities, along with "generally" the same staffing.

The deal would give the already quite diversified J&J an even more diverse range of businesses. Getting into vaccines has been something of a trend in Big Pharma, as drugmakers look to spread into new markets to make up for generic competition for key drugs. In fact, some analysts think that the J&J talks could touch off a bidding war for Crucell, with Novartis and Pfizer as potential buyers. Others figure that's unlikely; indeed, J&J says due diligence is almost wrapped up and Brus predicts the deal will close by year's end.

- read the WSJ piece
- see the news from Reuters