Actelion (VTX:ATLN) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) are reportedly in talks to reach a takeover deal after Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said yesterday that it has closed negotiations with the Swiss biotech. J&J and Actelion have been in informal talks for nearly 2 months and the US company has made an offer valued at 250 Swiss francs per share.
J&J said yesterday that it “was not able to reach an agreement that it believed would create adequate value for its shareholders.” Actelion told the company that it could attract offers that are significantly higher than the one made by J&J, according to Reuters.
After J&J abandoned its efforts, Sanofi has stepped in to pursue negotiations. The French drugmaker is eager to land a deal, since it lost a bid for Medivation to Pfizer’s $14 billion offer in August. Analysts told Reuters that Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt cannot afford to fail in a 2nd high-profile bid.
Analysts have previously suggested Sanofi could be a potential buyer, especially since Actelion’s portfolio of treatments for pulmonary arterial hypertension would complement Sanofiy’s Genzyme rare disease unit. But some are warning that J&J’s exit and a competitive bidding war could artificially drive up Actelion’s price.
“Winning a bidding war when it comes to acquiring biopharmaceutical companies almost always equates to way over-paying,” wrote Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson, according to Reuters.
“These are not bragging rights,” he said. “If Actelion were to go out at around $30 billion, this equates to around 13 times sales and 30 times earnings before interest and taxes. These are high figures.”
In the midst of competitive takeover offers is Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel, who has repeatedly asserted the company’s independence. In 2011, he rallied shareholders against a hedge fund’s effort to sell the biotech firm.
“It wasn’t about price, he simply doesn’t want to give up control,” a source close to J&J told the news outlet.
ATLN shares were trading at 191.30 Swiss francs this morning, down -8.3%.