J&J’s Raised Offer for Actelion Said to Be North of $250 a Share

(Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson’s talks to acquire Swiss drugmaker Actelion Ltd. are progressing after the world’s biggest health-care products maker raised its offer, people with knowledge of the matter said.

After Actelion rejected an initial proposal -- valued at about $246 (249 Swiss francs) a share -- as too low, J&J raised the bid to more than $250 (253 Swiss francs) per share, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The exact price couldn’t be determined. 

Actelion closed at 204 Swiss francs Friday in Zurich, giving the company a market value of about 22 billion Swiss francs ($21.8 billion).

A bid above 250 Swiss francs -- about $247 -- might see investors force the CEO’s hand, according to a report from Nick Turner, an analyst at Mirabaud Securities in London.

Negotiations between J&J and Actelion, Europe’s largest biotech firm, are continuing as they work toward a potential agreement, the people said. There’s no guarantee a deal will be reached and talks could still fall apart.

A representative for J&J didn’t immediately respond on Friday to a request for comment, while a representative for Actelion didn’t respond to requests for comment sent outside normal business hours.

Various Structures

While J&J would prefer to buy the whole company, it’s also open to discussing other structures for the deal to win the backing of Actelion Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Jean-Paul Clozel, people familiar with the matter have said. Regardless of the final structure, the American firm aims to ultimately gain control of the drugmaker, one of those people said.

Clozel, 61, has said in the past that he wants Actelion to remain independent after years of speculation that it could be a takeover target. Based in Allschwil, Switzerland, the company specializes in treatments for a type of hypertension that affects arteries that connect the heart to the lungs.

The CEO, who is one of Actelion’s largest shareholders, may now be more open to entertaining a sale at a sufficient premium, one of the people familiar said this week.

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