Crucell eagerly accepts $2.3B buyout offer from J&J

A year after buying a big chunk of Dutch biotech Crucell, J&J is coming back to the table with $2.3 billion to buy out the company and absorb its vaccine and drug development programs. For shareholders, the offer represents a hefty 58 percent premium on yesterday's close, which Crucell will recommend to shareholders. And for J&J, the acquisition moves it center stage in the world's fast-growing vaccine market.

Analysts see the buyout as a big plus for J&J, which gets new vaccine technology and programs, while the Crucell organization can plug itself into J&J's huge ops for drug development and marketing. J&J was lured by Crucell's considerable skills in vaccines. The two companies were partnered on developing new jabs, including a universal flu shot which is now the Holy Grail in vaccine development.

Crucell CEO Ronald Brus was quick to talk up the positive side of the tie-up, noting that the two companies have already had a chance to learn how to work with one another. And with J&J already in control of 18 percent of the European biotech, analysts say that any chance of another bidder coming along was remote at best.

"We believe the chances for success are high. The bid price on the remaining shares can be considered as a knock-out price and is substantially higher than the analysts' consensus target price," analyst Jan de Kerpel at KBC Securities tells Reuters. And at least one analyst notes that J&J's deal would take it out of any potential run for Genzyme, another sign that Sanofi may well remain the only bidder in talks with the Boston biotech company.

- here's the story from Bloomberg
- check out the Reuters report