Johnson & Johnson launches $2.32-bn bid for Dutch biotech firm Crucell NV

In a bid to strengthen its hold in the vaccine market, the $62-billion US healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), today launched a €1.75 billion ($2.32 billion) cash takeover bid for Dutch biotech firm Crucell NV.

If the deal materialises, Crucell will function as J&J's centre for vaccine development and serve as platform for Johnson & Johnson in the vaccine market for children diseases and on developing influenza vaccines.

J&J, which already owns a 17.9-per cent stake in Crucell, had revealed in September 2010 that it was in advanced talks to buy the remaining 82.1 per cent of Crucell in an all-cash public offer of €24.75 per ordinary share. (See: Johnson & Johnson in talks to buy Crucell for $2.3 billion)

In October the Van Herk Groep, which is Crucell's second-biggest shareholder with a 10.02-per cent stake, had urged Crucell to withdraw its support for J&J's bid saying that the €24.75 offer as too low and that it would like to see at least €27.50 on the table.

J&J, which is the largest shareholder in Crucell, had acquired the stake in 2009 for €302 million as part of a deal to enable Crucell to devlop a flu vaccine for J&J.

J&J's offer, which has the backing of Crucell's board and supervisory board, is for €24.75 per share, a premium of 58 per cent over Crucell's closing price of €15.70 on 16 September 2010, the day before J&J and Crucell announced they were in talks.