After Johnson & Johnson ended its bid, France's Sanofi is reported to be the next suitor in waiting for a tie-up with Europe's largest biotechnology drug maker, Actelion. As Ciara Lee reports, a deal could value Actelion at as much as $30 billion.
Johnson and Johnson may have abandoned its efforts to buy Swiss drugmaker Actelion - but there could be a new suitor in town. Sources say Actelion is in talks with French drugmaker Sanofi. Sanofi declined to comment. But it's thought a deal could value Actelion at up to $30 billion if it went ahead. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CO FOUNDER, SEVEN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "The key issue about biotech companies is when they have actually got a good product which nobody else has got then they are gold dust. If they are just a research company hoping to develop something in the future no one wants to know them. In this case they do have good products. So J&J were interested in developing. They would have actually fit in very nicely into their range, but they couldn't agree a price. So therefore the alternative coming through would actually be a suitable tie-up too and that could actually be really rather attractive." Sanofi was trumped in August by Pfizer's $14 billion bid for U.S. cancer drug company Medivation. Swiss company Actelion, has confirmed talks over a "possible strategic transaction" but did not say with whom. And analysts have previously mentioned Sanofi as a potential buyer. Even so, some say a competitive auction could drive up its price to unrealistic levels. Even if for now, Actelion's shares traded 10 percent lower amid concern that J&J's exit made a successful deal for Europe's biggest biotech group less likely.