Sanofi mulls counterbid for Actelion amid J&J talks
Sanofi is considering a counterbid for Actelion Ltd, potentially challenging a move by US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson to acquire Europe’s largest biotechnology firm, people familiar with the matter said.
The French drugmaker is working with advisers as it weighs its options, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Sanofi, which has informally made its interest known to Switzerland’s Actelion, hasn’t made a final decision on whether to proceed with a bid.
J&J aims to reach a deal before Christmas as the two sides negotiate the price and structure of a potential deal, according to two people familiar with the matter. The talks are progressing after the US drugmaker increased its offer, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, ratcheting up pressure on potential counterbidders to move quickly. J&J raised its bid above $250 a share, a person said last week, which would value Actelion at more than $27 billion.
In addition to Sanofi, advisers seeking work with prospective buyers have reached out to other drugmakers, including Roche Holding AG of Switzerland and Pfizer Inc, to gauge potential interest in bidding for Actelion.
Novartis AG CEO Joe Jimenez ruled out a counterbid for Actelion in an interview with SonntagsBlick newspaper published on Sunday, saying the Swiss drugmaker is focused on acquisitions of less than $5 billion.
Representatives for Roche, Pfizer and Paris-based Sanofi declined to comment. Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.