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Pending Acquisition of Swiss Biotech Firm Offers Bright Spot For J&J

$30 Billion Deal to Buy Biotech Company Actelion Nearing Final Approval
J&J Headquarters
J&J will finalize its purchase of Swiss biotech group Actelion in coming months. Dave Schatz

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–On April 18, Hub City-based corporation Johnson & Johnson (J&J) published quarterly sales numbers that were below estimates amid sluggish U.S. sales, though world-wide sales increased.

But a bright spot for J&J is the pending acquisition of Swiss biotech group Actelion Ltd., which J&J is buying for $30 billion.

Actelion was founded in 1997 and employs more than 2,000 people.  It is a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company that specializes in rare diseases.

J&J says that "Regulatory approval has been obtained in six of seven jurisdictions in which the company filed for such approval, with antitrust approval from the European Commission pending."

The company says that the purchase is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017, "subject to the satisfaction of remaining closing conditions."

Purchasing Actelion “demonstrates our ongoing commitment to bringing innovation to patients with significant unmet needs, and provides a unique opportunity for us to expand our portfolio with leading, differentiated in-market medicines and promising late-stage products," said Alex Gorsky, J&J's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Gorsky added that J&J’s first quarter results are on par with the pharma giant’s expectations and that it will “achieve the full-year [profit/loss prediction] established at the beginning of the year.”

J&J is now including the estimated impact of the Actelion transaction in its financial predictions it said, increasing sales calculations for this year to between $75.4 billion and $76.1 billion, according to the company (from $74.1 billion to $74.8 billion).

“The Band-Aid maker got off to a rocky start this year,” writes Natalie Grover for Reuters News Service, adding that J&J “said it expected a slower growth rate for pharmaceuticals” this year.

J&J is the only major pharma company that has published its quarterly results so far this year, points out Grover, noting the Brunswick-based company did so “a month after the Republican attempt to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system spectacularly failed.”

A“renewed effort” is reportedly “in the works.”

J&J sells a large portion of its products overseas and the strong U.S. dollar has continued to challenge operational results.

Moreover, J&J must limit prices to a certain threshold in some of its new overseas markets, due to an excess of supply from competing sellers.