Crucell confirms merger talks with Wyeth

An expansive Wyeth is in talks to acquire vaccine maker Crucell--one of the last of the big independent vaccine makers--in a deal that the Wall Street Journal reports could value the Dutch company at more than $1.35 billion. Crucell confirmed that talks are ongoing, but declined to divulge any details.  

At a time when many analysts are looking for cash-rich pharma companies to snap up cash-starved developers, a marriage of Wyeth and Crucell would combine two strong companies. While shares for both are down, neither has succumbed to the financial panic that has blitzed small and medium-sized biotech companies.

News of the merger talks hit just after Wyeth CEO Bernard Poussot (photo) told a conference in New York that the drug company is positioning itself to earn more money from nontraditional sources, such as biotech, vaccines and consumer products. Currently, Wyeth gets about 60 percent of its revenue from sources other than traditional therapeutics. Poussot expects that figure to jump to 75 percent in four or five years.

While independent, Crucell has struck a string of licensing deals for its technology and is also engaged in a research partnership with Sanofi-Aventis and other developers.

- here's Crucell's statement
- read the story in the Wall Street Journal