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J&J to buy Actelion for US$30b, spin off research unit

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Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Actelion Ltd for US$30 billion and spin off the Swiss drugmaker's research and development operations, clinching its largest deal ever to become a leader in medicines treating a rare type of high blood pressure.

[NEW YORK] Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Actelion Ltd for US$30 billion and spin off the Swiss drugmaker's research and development operations, clinching its largest deal ever to become a leader in medicines treating a rare type of high blood pressure.

With the purchase, J&J, already the world's biggest maker of health-care products, is fulfilling its goal of adding a new drug category and dealing a blow to France's Sanofi, which had also sought to acquire Actelion.

J&J will begin a tender offer to buy shares of Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion for US$280 each in cash, the companies said in a statement. The price, which equals 280.08 Swiss francs(S$396.8), is 23 per cent above Wednesday's closing level. The R&D operations will be spun off to Actelion shareholders as a new publicly traded company, with J&J keeping a 16 per cent stake.

The deal caps weeks of discussions interrupted for several days after New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J walked away on Dec 13, only to return to the negotiating table about a week later. Access to Actelion's drugs Tracleer, Opsumit and Uptravi, which all treat life-threatening pulmonary arterial hypertension, will make J&J a leader in the disease and help it expand beyond autoimmune, heart and cancer drugs.

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