Crucell takeover moves forward
Leiden – Overshadowed by contamination problems at Crucell N.V.’s vaccine plant in South Korea, pharmaceutical and healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has continued the purchase of 82.5 % of the Dutch biotechnology vaccine maker for about EUR 1.75bn. The payment is to be made by a subsidiary of J&J, which already owns 17.5 % of the biotechnology firm. The funds reflect a price of EUR 24.75 per share, a premium of 58 % on share prices on September 16th, the day before the two groups revealed that they were in advanced talks. Crucell said an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting will take place on December 10th in Amsterdam to air views on the J&J offer. The biotech firm also announced at the end of October that it won’t meet its 2010 financial targets because it has suspended operations at its Shingal site in South Korea and temporarily halted shipments of two vaccines due to contamination issues. Crucell, which employs 1,300 people, produced more than 115 million doses of vaccine last year for distribution in about 100 countries, most of them in the developing world. J&J said it intends to retain management and staff at Crucell, and to keep the headquarters in Leiden. The takeover mirrors the strong appeal of the vaccine business to big pharma, as vaccines sell better than prescription drugs and there is little competition from generics.