Actelion (VTX:ATLN) shares jumped more than 8% to 214 Swiss francs after reports that Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and the Swiss biotech are nearing a takeover deal that would value Actelion at $29.6 billion.
After Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) abandoned its efforts to reach an agreement with Actelion this week, Sanofi stepped in to pursue negotiations. Sanofi is expected to offer Actelion shareholders cash plus contingent value rights, according to Bloomberg. Investors told Reuters that they would push for more information if Sanofi makes such an offer.
The French drugmaker is eager to land a deal after it lost out on Medivation Inc. earlier this year, which gave Pfizer its blockbuster Xtandi prostate cancer drug. A $26.9 billion deal with Actelion would top Sanofi’s $20.1 billion purchase of rare disease specialist Genzyme in 2011.
Actelion’s portfolio includes drugs for pulmonary arterial hypertension and the company plans to expand into mutliple sclerosis and clostridium difficile. Some investors would prefer to take the cash from a takeover deal rather than bet on CEO Jean-Paul Clozel’s risky pipeline.
“If I look at the (drugs) pipeline that Mr. Clozel is excited about, I am perhaps less excited about it and see perhaps a greater risk than reward,” Union Bancaire Privee fund manager Eleanor Taylor Jolidon told Reuters.
But Clozel has repeatedly maintained that the company should remain independent. In 2011, he rallied shareholders against an investor’s bid to sell the company and 4 years later he fought off interest from drugmaker Shire.
As the pricetag for Actelion continues to climb, investors have said that if Clozel rejects a reasonable bid, then “he would have a lot of explaining to do.”