Johnson & Johnson said it is in advanced talks to acquire Dutch biotech firm Crucell NV for €1.75 billion, or $2.29 billion, a deal that would boost the American healthcare product maker's vaccine business.
Johnson & Johnson in talks to buy vaccine maker for $2.29 billion
Johnson & Johnson already owns a 17.9% stake in Crucell. Shares in Crucell, whose board will recommend the offer to stockholders, jumped more than 50% in early trading in Amsterdam.
"The companies expect that Crucell's strength in the manufacture, discovery and commercialization of vaccines would create a strong platform for Johnson & Johnson in the vaccine market," the companies said in a joint statement.
Johnson & Johnson, headquartered in New Brunswick, N.J., has about $64 billion in annual sales and is the world's biggest and most broadly-based healthcare company, with products ranging from Band-Aids and baby shampoo to contact lenses and contraceptives.
While it has a strong biotech business with its Centocor division, it's new to the vaccine market and has been looking to grow its business.
Last year it bought both its Crucell stake and an 18% stake in Irish biotech company Elan Corp, which is developing an Alzheimer vaccine and treatment.
Crucell's biggest-selling vaccine is Quinvaxem, which protects against five childhood diseases. But it has a number of interesting vaccines and treatments under development.
Last year it was awarded a $69 million U.S. government grant for developing a universal treatment for the flu, including strains resistant to Tamiflu — the medicine most commonly used to slow influenza infections.
Crucell, based in Leiden, Netherlands, is also working on a treatment for people infected with rabies and an HIV vaccine.
In addition to its vaccine business, Crucell sells a line of human cells widely used by big pharmaceutical firms as a platform for developing vaccines.
J&J bought its stake in Crucell last year shortly after Wyeth had dropped a bid for Crucell when it was itself acquired by Pfizer Inc.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.