Actelion in exclusive negotiations with J&J after talks with Sanofi

Swiss drugmaker Actelion said in a brief statement yesterday that it was conducting exclusive negotiations with US healthcare giant, Johnson and Johnson but there could be "no assurance any transaction would result from these discussions", declining to comment further.

The talks were confirmed by J&J in a separate statement.

According to commentators, the announcement could mean Sanofi, which had been actively pursuing Actelion could be left out in the cold. J&J had, a little over a week ago said it had ended discussions with Actelion.

Sanofi had been looking to broaden its drug line-up as its key diabetes business came under pressure.

Actelion's market value stood at 23.2 billion Swiss francs ($22.6 billion) at yesterday's closing price of 215 Swiss francs in Switzerland.

US shares in Actelion were up 11 per cent after the announcement, while J&J shares were down 3.3 per cent at 1815 GMT.

Actelion had told J&J before the initial talks collapsed last week of being confident of attracting an offer significantly higher than the approximately 250 Swiss francs per share the US company had offered, according to one person familiar with the matter. The person added that there were also disagreements about the proposed deal's structure.

According to commentators, Actelion investors were said to be getting restless over the apparent failure of a deal with Sanofi, but its shares rose on Tuesday as word leaked of the progress in the talks between the two.  

But now Sanofi was on the sidelines and J&J was back in the reckoning.

Sources had told Bloomberg that the contingent value right, or CVR, Sanofi had included in the deal was about $20 of the $275 price per Actelion share, amounting to a $2 billion bonus if certain pipeline drugs were as successful as Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel suggested.