Despite reports this week that Actelion Pharmaceuticals (VTX:ATLN) rejected Johnson & Johson‘s (NYSE:JNJ) 2nd takeover bid, hedge funds are piling into the Swiss biotech firm, encouraged by Actelion’s silence on the matter.
The 2 companies have been engaged in informal talks for 2 months, according to Reuters, and the latest offer was pegged at 250 Swiss francs per share. J&J’s $27 billion bid for Actelion is tempting to shareholders, who would rather have the cash now than wait and bet on Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel’s risky pipeline for therapeutics of rare diseases.
Earlier in the week, streetinsider.com reported that Clozel decided to reject J&J’s offer, which sent the firm’s shares down -6% in afternoon trading. But Actelion has not made any formal statement since the companies confirmed the initial talks and investors see that as a promising sign that J&J’s approach will result in an outright takeover.
In the past, Clozel has asserted that the company should remain independent. In 2011, he rallied shareholders against an investor’s campaign to sell the firm and then in 2015 rejected a takeover interest from drugmaker Shire. Clozel holds 5% in the company he co-founded with his wife, Martine Clozel, who also owns an undisclosed stake.
Clozel will have some explaining to do to shareholders if he rejects J&J’s deal, fund managers told Reuters. But, it appears they believe this deal could be the one that the CEO finally accepts. “We don’t think Clozel is going to fight,” an anonymous hedge fund manager told the news outlet.
Actelion shares soared on Friday after news of the initial offer broke, up 19% to a peak of 187.70 Swiss francs, which put the company at a value of $20 billion. Today, ATLN shares were trading at $204.00 in mid-morning activity, up 4.4%.