Fri, Jan 27, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Johnson & Johnson buys Actelion for US$30 billion


Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Actelion Ltd for US$30 billion and spin off the Swiss drugmaker’s research and development operations, clinching one of its largest deals ever to become a leader in medicines treating a rare type of high blood pressure.

With the purchase, Johnson & Johnson, already the world’s biggest maker of healthcare products, is fulfilling its goal of adding a new drug category and dealing a blow to France’s Sanofi SA, which had also sought to acquire Actelion.

Johnson & Johnson is to begin a tender offer to buy shares of Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion for US$280 each in cash, the companies said in a statement.

The price, which equals 280.08 Swiss francs, is 23 percent above Wednesday’s closing level.

The research and development operations are to be spun off to Actelion shareholders as a new publicly traded company, with Johnson & Johnson keeping a 16 percent stake.

The deal caps weeks of discussions interrupted for several days after New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson walked away on Dec. 13 last year, only to return to the negotiating table about a week later.

Access to Actelion’s drugs Tracleer, Opsumit and Uptravi, which all treat life-threatening pulmonary arterial hypertension, would make Johnson & Johnson a leader in the disease and help it expand beyond autoimmune, heart and cancer drugs.

Meanwhile, Sanofi is left empty-handed for the second time after losing out on cancer treatment maker Medivation Inc to another US giant, Pfizer Inc, in August last year.

Actelion was founded 20 years ago by CEO Jean-Paul Clozel, his wife, Martine Clozel, and a team of scientists who split from Roche Holding AG.

The discovery of blockbuster Tracleer more than a decade ago propelled it to become a leader in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Uptravi and Opsumit followed and are to replace Tracleer, which has lost patent protection and faces challenges from copycat drugs.

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