Sanofi mulls coun­ter­bid for Acte­lion amid J&J talks

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By BLOOMBERG

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.

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