Actelion talking to Sanofi after J&J exit: sources

Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:01am EST
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By Greg Roumeliotis and Oliver Hirt

NEW YORK/ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's Actelion Ltd (ATLN.S: Quote) is in talks with French drugmaker Sanofi (SASY.PA: Quote) about a deal, sources said on Wednesday, after U.S. healthcare group Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N: Quote) abandoned efforts to buy the company.

Actelion's shares traded 10 percent lower amid concern among investors that J&J's exit made a successful deal for Europe's biggest biotech group less likely.

Sanofi declined to comment.

The French drugmaker was trumped in August by Pfizer's (PFE.N: Quote) $14 billion bid for U.S. cancer drug company Medivation and is still eager for deals to broaden its drug line-up.

However, analysts said Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt could ill afford to fail in a second high-profile bid.

Actelion told J&J it was confident it could attract an offer significantly higher than the approximately 250 Swiss francs per share the U.S. company had offered, according to one person familiar with the matter.

There were also disagreements about the proposed deal's structure, the person added.

Actelion shares had closed at 208.50 Swiss francs on Tuesday, a 25 percent premium to their price before J&J's bid became public two weeks and giving the company a market capitalization of 22.5 billion Swiss francs ($22.2 billion).   Continued...

A general view shows Swiss biotech group Actelion Headquarters in Allschwil, Switzerland, February 17, 2015.    REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo