Takeover-hungry J&J hikes its Actelion bid past $26B

Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson has raised its takeover offer for Swiss biotech Actelion.

Actelion’s reportedly not interested in a straight-up takeover by suitor Johnson & Johnson. But the New Jersey drugmaker is, and it’s loading the pressure on.

The pharma giant has raised its offer for the Swiss biotech, Bloomberg’s sources say. The new proposed price isn’t known, but it’s a significant increase on the CHF 246 ($242) per share--or $26 billion--that Actelion previously rejected. That offer wasn’t public, though both companies disclosed late last week that they were engaged in deal talks. Actelion has also given J&J a peek at some of its financial information as part of the process, the news service says.

According to Reuters, that process has been going on informally for nearly two months, but the parties haven’t been able to move forward. The hang-up? Actelion would rather form a new entity with a piece of J&J, with the behemoth becoming a major shareholder of that new entity. J&J, on the other hand, wants to swallow Actelion whole.

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It wasn’t always that way, Reuters says. The companies initially talked over a transaction without a big premium--such as a share deal or an asset swap. And Bloomberg says J&J is still open to talking through other deal structures in order to win over Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel. Ultimately, though, J&J--which is looking for new revenue streams as biosimilar competition creeps up on blockbuster Remicade--wants control of Actelion, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

Actelion, a frequent subject of takeover buzz, hasn’t exactly been shy about the fact that it wants to keep flying solo. Clozel, who founded the company with his wife Martine--Actelion’s chief scientific officer--after leaving an exec post at Roche, told Bloomberg in April that “if we want to continue to create shareholder value, the best for us is to remain independent.”

Bankers, though, are working to get other Big Pharma players to make their own Actelion approaches, the Financial Times reported this week. Roche, Novartis and Sanofi have all popped up previously in chatter concerning potential suitors.  

But Actelion has plenty of experience fending off unwanted suitors. Last year, the company reportedly dodged an $18.9 billion bid from fellow rare-disease drugmaker Shire, and in 2011 it resisted activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors. 

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