Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest maker of health-care products, raised its takeover offer for Actelion Ltd. as negotiations with Europe’s largest biotech firm progress, according to people familiar with the matter.

J&J significantly increased its offer from an earlier bid of about 246 Swiss francs ($242) a share, or $26 billion, which the Swiss company rejected as too low, said the people, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The new price couldn’t be confirmed. Actelion has given J&J access to some of its financial information as part of the negotiations, they said.

While J&J would prefer to buy the whole company, it’s also open to discussing other structures for the deal to win the backing of Actelion’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Jean-Paul Clozel, the people said. Irrespective of the final structure, the American firm aims to ultimately gain control of the drugmaker, one of the people said. One option being discussed is creating a separate entity for Actelion’s experimental drugs and research activities, the people said.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that the companies were discussing a complex transaction that could allow the Swiss company to remain independent, and that Actelion isn’t actively considering selling itself outright. Such a deal would bring together Actelion and parts of J&J’s pharmaceutical business, the newspaper said, citing people close to the discussions who it didn’t name.

Spokesmen for J&J and Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion declined to comment.

The companies confirmed New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J’s approach in separate statements Friday and said there’s no guarantee they’ll come to an agreement. Actelion may also attract other suitors, such as Novartis AG and Sanofi, separate people previously said.

Clozel has said in the past that he wants Actelion to remain independent after years of speculation that the company, which specializes in treatments for a type of hypertension that affects arteries that connect the heart to the lungs, could be a takeover target. The 61-year-old, who is one of Actelion’s largest shareholders, may now be more open to entertaining a sale at a sufficient premium, one of the people had said.

Actelion shares jumped the most in more than 16 years on Friday after Bloomberg reported J&J’s interest. The company fell 4.8 percent to 180.90 Swiss francs at 3:30 p.m. in Zurich on Tuesday after the Financial Times report, giving it a market value of about $19.2 billion.

--With assistance from Jared S. Hopkins James Paton Ed Hammond and Johannes Koch To contact the reporters on this story: Manuel Baigorri in London at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net, Matthew Campbell in London at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net, Dinesh Nair in London at dnair5@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Aaron Kirchfeld at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net, Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net, Amy Thomson

©2016 Bloomberg L.P.

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