LONDON Dec 20 Talks between Actelion
and Sanofi are making progress, despite investors'
anxiety as to whether the Swiss biotech firm's chief executive
really wants a deal, a person with direct knowledge of situation
said on Tuesday.
The source said Actelion had now reached a point where the
company needed to sign a deal and it could not call off
negotiations with the French drugmaker without triggering an
investor rebellion demanding the overthrow of its board.
Actelion's share price has fallen more than 7 percent in the
last two days as a hoped-for takeover valuing the Swiss biotech
firm at up to $30 billion has failed to emerge, frustrating
hedge funds that have bought heavily into the stock.
"You can count us in to the growing camp of hedge fund
discontent about this process," said Michael Wegener, managing
partner at Hong Kong-based Case Equity Partners. "What is it
The silence in recent days has unnerved investors who had
been looking for a deal before the Christmas break, but the
source said it would be "neither impossible nor unusual" to see
a big transaction coming between Christmas and New Year's Eve.
U.S. healthcare group Johnson & Johnson abandoned
its efforts to buy Actelion last week and people familiar with
the situation said Sanofi had stepped in with proposals for an
offer that would include cash and a so-called contingent value
The CVR - similar to one that Sanofi provided when it bought
U.S. rare diseases firm Genzyme for $20 billion in 2011 - would
pay out if certain Actelion drugs live up to commercial
Investors said any offer where the CVR represented more than
20 percent of the overall value of the deal would not go down
well with shareholders.
Sanofi and Actelion declined to comment.
After being trumped in August by Pfizer's $14
billion bid for U.S. cancer drug company Medivation, Sanofi
remains hungry for deals to broaden its drug line-up as its key
diabetes business comes under pressure.
Actelion's drugs for treating pulmonary arterial
hypertension, a life-threatening form of high blood pressure in
arteries connecting the heart and lungs, would dovetail with its
Genzyme rare diseases unit, analysts believe.
The Swiss group was founded by its CEO Jean-Paul Clozel in
1997 and his long-term desire to retain independence has stalled
takeover attempts in the past.
(Writing by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Greg Mahlich)