Actelion re-enters talks with J&J, sidelining Sanofi

Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:44am EST
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By John Revill and Ludwig Burger

ZURICH/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Swiss biotech company Actelion (ATLN.S: Quote) has turned back to prospective bidder Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N: Quote) for exclusive talks about a "strategic transaction", in an about-turn that appears to sideline rival suitor Sanofi (SASY.PA: Quote).

Actelion said in a brief statement on Wednesday it was in exclusive negotiations with the U.S. healthcare giant but that there could be "no assurance any transaction will result from these discussions", declining to comment further.

J&J confirmed the talks in a separate statement.

The announcement could dash the hopes of French drugmaker Sanofi, which sources have said has been circling Actelion after J&J a little over a week ago said it had ended discussions with Actelion.

Sanofi has been trying to broaden its drug line-up as its key diabetes business comes under pressure.

The French company has signaled it remained keen to make a takeover deal after being trumped in August by Pfizer's (PFE.N: Quote) $14 billion bid for U.S. cancer drug company Medivation.

Sanofi declined to comment on Wednesday.

Actelion had a market value of 23.2 billion Swiss francs ($22.6 billion) at Wednesday's closing price of 215 Swiss francs in Switzerland.   Continued...

The company's logo is seen at the headquarters of Swiss biotech company Actelion in Allschwil, Switzerland December 6, 2016.    Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann