J&J raises Actelion takeover pressure with higher price: source

Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:50pm EST
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By Pamela Barbaglia and Anjuli Davies

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. healthcare company Johnson & Johnson has raised its offer for Actelion, a source told Reuters on Tuesday, stepping up pressure on the Swiss biotech firm to accept a takeover deal.

J&J had increased its offer, which has not yet been made public, after nearly two months of informal talks which have so far not resulted in a deal, the source added.

The main stumbling block is that Actelion wants J&J to become a major shareholder in a new entity combining the Swiss group with some of J&J's activities, whereas the U.S. company wants a straightforward takeover, the source said.

Actelion shares closed up 10 percent at 209 Swiss francs, just off a record high, following news of the higher offer.

J&J has become one of the world's biggest healthcare companies through hundreds of acquisitions, in which it has nearly always bought entire companies or drugs outright.

Actelion co-founder and Chief Executive Jean-Paul Clozel has fended off previous attempts to wrest the Swiss firm from him, including a reported takeover approach by Shire last year and an activist campaign in 2011 by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Advisors.

Clozel and his wife Martine, who is Actelion's chief scientific officer, founded the business in 1997. They have been trying to expand its portfolio, which consists of three main drugs focused on treating PAH, a deadly buildup of pressure in blood vessels between the heart and lungs.

Earlier, Bloomberg News reported that Actelion had rejected an offer of 246 francs per share, valuing the Swiss company at around 26.5 billion Swiss francs ($26 billion). The Clozels, both physicians who worked at Roche before setting up Actelion, still own more than 3 percent of its shares.   Continued...

The logo of healthcare company Johnson & Johnson is seen in front of an office building in Zug, Switzerland July 20, 2016.     REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann