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J&J aims to buy Crucell

Johnson & Johnson has announced that it is in advanced negotiations to buy the Dutch biotech firm Crucell for €1.75bn in cash

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced that it is in advanced negotiations to buy the Dutch biotech firm Crucell for €1.75bn in cash.

The move is intended to bolster J&J's presence in the vaccines market. Crucell develops and produces vaccines, proteins and antibodies aimed at infectious diseases, with a focus on developing countries. The company's core product portfolio includes the fully-liquid pentavalent vaccine Quinvaxem, which protects against five childhood diseases and has sold over 130 million doses in the developing world since its 2006 launch.

J&J said Netherlands-based Crucell would be the vaccines center of the J&J pharmaceutical group but would be encouraged to "retain its entrepreneurial culture."

J&J already owns 17.9 per cent of the outstanding shares of Crucell through an affiliate. The company bought that stake for €301.8m last year as part of a partnership focused on vaccines for influenza. The initial focus of the partnership, which was forged with J&J's Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has been a universal monoclonal antibody product for the treatment and prevention of flu.

The US company is now proposing to acquire all of Crucell's remaining equity for €24.75 per share.

J&J said that it expects to leave Crucell's senior management team in place and is not planning significant layoffs. Crucell is headed up by Ronald Brus, president and CEO, who was formerly chief operating officer and, before that, chief business officer of the company. He has also been a product planning physician at Forest Laboratories in New York and medical director for Zambon.

J&J and Crucell stressed that there is not yet a definitive agreement for a merger and that terms are still being negotiated.

20th September 2010

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