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Actelion and J&J Are in Talks About Takeover of Swiss Drugmaker

  • Shares of Actelion soar by most in more than 16 years
  • Deliberations said to be at an early stage after initial offer
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J&J Said to Make Takeover Approach for Actelion

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Johnson & Johnson is in talks with Actelion Ltd. about a potential takeover of the $19.9 billion Swiss drugmaker, the companies said Friday, as the U.S. health-care giant works to expand its pharmaceutical lineup.

Actelion and J&J confirmed the approach in separate statements Friday, saying it’s not certain that a deal will happen. Actelion is working with an adviser to explore options, and the deliberations are still at an early stage following J&J’s initial offer, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The company may also attract other suitors, such as Novartis AG and Sanofi, separate people with knowledge of the matter said.