Swiss orthopedics maker Synthes says its investors overwhelmingly voted to accept a $21.3 billion acquisition offer from U.S. healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson.
Synthes investors back J&J buyout
The vote was the latest step in J&J's effort to acquire the medical device maker which, if successful, would be J&J's largest purchase ever.
The deal still needs to be cleared by regulators in the U.S. and Europe but is expected to close by June.
Synthes said in a statement about 75% of shares entitled to vote were represented in Thursday's action. The company did not report the final vote count.
J&J said in a statement: "We are pleased with the result and continue to make progress on all aspects of the merger process required to complete the transaction."
The European Union Commission has until April 2 to complete its review of the transaction, according to J&J.
Synthes is the top player in devices for repairing traumatic injuries and No. 2 in spine repair products, and is highly profitable. A successful buyout would double J&J's market position in spine repair products and add roughly 5% to the company's 2012 earnings per share, according to analysts.
The sale of Synthes could also make multibillionaire chairman Dr. Hansjorg Wyss the richest man in Switzerland. He owns 40% of the company, and his family's trust owns an additional 8%, according to Synthes' 2010 annual report.
Synthes' U.S. offices are located in West Chester, Pa., but the company's global headquarters is in Solothurn, Switzerland.
For Johnson and Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., buying Synthes would help offset declines in sales from some of its biggest over-the-counter medications, including children's Tylenol. The company's repeated product recalls have resulted in the year-long closure of a key factory in Fort Washington, Pa. The company is under close Food and Drug Administration scrutiny.
Johnson & Johnson shares rose 47 cents to $63.65 in morning trading Thursday.
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