Johnson & Johnson Quits Actelion Bid

15.12.2016 -

Johnson & Johnson has withdrawn from the running for Actelion Pharmaceuticals, leaving the path clear for another buyer, which multiple reports say is Sanofi.

The US healthcare giant confirmed it has ended discussions for a potential merger, saying it was not able to reach an agreement that it believed would create adequate value for its shareholders.

Citing sources close to the situation, news agency Reuters said the Swiss biotech is confident it can attract a bid significantly above J&J’s offer of approximately $27 billion, and there were also issues over the deal structure.

The Wall Street Journal’s sources have mentioned a deal worth up to $30 billion, which analysts say is probably too much. “Winning a bidding war when it comes to acquiring biopharmaceutical companies almost always equates to overpaying,” noted Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson in a note. Before J&J’s interest broke, Actelion’s market capitalization stood at about $20 billion.

Actelion has confirmed it is “engaged in discussions with another party regarding a possible strategic transaction”, although stressed that “there can be no certainty at this point that any transaction will result”.

While Sanofi is widely reported to be the potential buyer, the French drugmaker has declined to comment on what it says are market rumors. Sanofi lost out to Pfizer in its attempt to acquire pharma-biotech firm Medivation earlier this year and is said to need a boost in revenues.

The company is facing mounting pressure in its diabetes business from both payers and increased competition from cheaper biosimilar versions, forcing it to lay off 20% of its diabetes and cardiovascular salesforce. The cuts, which could amount to hundreds of jobs, are part of a larger shakeup for the business, which Sanofi announced internally this month.