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J&J in talks to buy Synthes

Published: 
Monday, April 18, 2011

BOSTON—Johnson & Johnson is in preliminary talks to acquire Swiss medical device maker Synthes for a price which could be about US$20 billion, a source familiar with the situation said yesterday. A deal at that price would mark an 11 per cent premium over Synthes’ current market capitalisation of about $18 billion. It would allow healthcare conglomerate J&J to further diversify its healthcare business. However, talks could still break down, said the source, who declined to be named because the talks are not public. The medical device sector has been consolidating as pharmaceutical companies look to diversify away from drugs going off patent. Other recent medical device deals include the US$5.8 billion acquisition of Beckman Coulter by Danaher Corp, announced in February. 

Synthes shares closed up 6.2 per cent in Switzerland, with traders citing market talk that the diversified healthcare company or US medical device maker Medtronic Inc could be interested in buying the company. J&J, which holds about US$19 billion in cash, could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday. “As a matter of policy we don’t comment on speculation,” J&J spokesman Bill Price said when asked on Friday. Synthes was not immediately available to comment. J&J owns some 250 separate companies under its corporate umbrella and a Synthes purchase would be its largest ever acquisition. The company attempted to acquire US medical device maker Guidant several years ago, but was outbid by Boston Scientific Corp. (Reuters)

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