(Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson has tentatively agreed with Actelion Ltd. on a price to acquire the Swiss biotechnology company, people with knowledge of the matter said, and talks are now focused on valuing what would be a new unit that would house the research and development assets.
Under the terms being discussed, Actelion’s R&D would be spun off into a new company and its shareholders would be able to keep some stock in that business, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. What exactly would be separated into that unit, and how much ownership Actelion investors would be able to keep, are the points under discussion, the people said.
A deal could be finalized as soon as this month, the people said. Talks could be delayed or fall apart, and there’s no guarantee that a transaction will be completed. Before the current round of negotiations started in late December, J&J had made an offer for Actelion valued at about $260 per share, or more than $28 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
Shares of Actelion, which specializes in treatments for a type of hypertension that affects arteries connecting the heart to the lungs, dropped 1.2 percent to 228.60 Swiss francs in Zurich Wednesday, giving it a market value of about 25 billion Swiss francs ($24 billion).
A representative of J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, declined to comment. A spokesman for Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours.
Bloomberg reported in November that among the options discussed during initial talks with J&J was creating a separate entity for Actelion’s experimental drugs and research activities, according to people familiar with the matter. Reuters subsequently reported that J&J was negotiating a deal to acquire Actelion that would separate its commercialized portfolio from its research and development assets.
U.S. drug giant J&J and Actelion said last month that they entered exclusive talks about a possible strategic transaction, days after announcing publicly that they’d failed to reach agreement. The reversal was a blow to French drugmaker Sanofi, which had been in advanced talks to buy Actelion after J&J dropped out.
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