By Austen Hufford

Johnson & Johnson re-entered acquisition talks with Actelion Ltd., both companies said Wednesday.

J&J said last week that it had bowed out of the bidding, and Actelion said that it was "engaged in discussions with another party" without giving more detail. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the party was Sanofi , citing people familiar with the matter.

Wednesday, J&J said it had entered into "exclusive negotiations" to the rare-disease drugmaker, indicating that other potential suitors had left the process. Peoplefamiliar with the matter have said a deal could value Actelion at as much as $30 billion.

A representative from Sanofi declined to comment.

Actelion specializes in treatments for a rare disorder known as pulmonary arterial hypertension. The Swiss drug company reported revenue of 2.1 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion) and a profit of 552 million Swiss francs last year.

Actelion shares rose 6.4% as J&J shares fell 0.4%. Sanofi shares fell 0.6%.

J&J has been trying to reassure Wall Street that it can withstand looming competition to its drug Remicade, an autoimmune therapy that had $4.5 billion in U.S. sales last year. J&J has said it has several drugs in the late stages of development, but a deal for Actelion would help J&J quickly plug the lost sales.

Write to Austen Hufford at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 22, 2016 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)

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