Drug Development

Stubborn Actelion CEO Clozel spurs shift in buyout talks, but J&J counters with a raised bid — reports

Jean-Paul Clozel

Jean-Paul Clozel, Actelion

Actelion was never going to be an eager partner in any takeover attempt. The Swiss biotech’s CEO, Jean-Paul Clozel, has stubbornly resisted earlier attempts to force a change in ownership. And now The Financial Times is reporting that his stolid attitude spurred J&J to start investigating a possible tie-up rather than an outright buyout.

The FT team reports that Clozel was predictably resistant to J&J’s overture to acquire the company, which boosted Actelion’s market cap to about $20 billion. Its shares dropped, though, after the FT’s report that J&J may pursue the more complicated approach of buying into the company in a move that would still leave Actelion acting as an independent entity.

Then, later in the morning, Actelion’s shares shot up 10% after Bloomberg reported that Actelion had turned down a $25 billion offer and Reuters added a piece stating that J&J had boosted its offer.

Both companies have acknowledged that talks are underway, but are staying tight-lipped about any of the terms being discussed.

The FT cited sources close to the buyout talks.

The follow-up reports would indicate that J&J clearly wants to avoid a more complicated deal when it can easily afford to complete a simple acquisition.

Roche, where Clozel worked before spinning out Actelion as a separate company, has also been frequently cited as a possible bidder for the Swiss company. But Clozel and his team have stayed focused on building sales with two new therapies, vowing to take Actelion to a whole new level — on their own.

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