Crucell CEO urges shareholders to accept J&J offer

By Marcel Michelson

AMSTERDAM, Dec 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Dutch biotech firm Crucell’s
(CRCL.AS: )(CRXL.O: ) chief executive on Friday urged shareholders
to accept U.S. healthcare group Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N: )
long-awaited 1.75 billion euro bid.

Several shareholders including Van Herk Groep, which is
Crucell’s second-biggest shareholder with a 10.02 percent stake,
have previously argued that J&J’s offer of 24.75 euros per share
was too low.

Robert Brus, chief executive, told a shareholders’ meeting
in Amsterdam that Crucell’s chances were better in future as
part of a larger pharmaceuticals group with the financial clout
to fund research.

“J&J has a large marketing and sales operation which will be
available to Crucell and allow us to compete…with our rivals
that are backed by or part of big pharma,” Brus told
shareholders.

“Crucell will become the vaccines centre within J&J while we
can keep our own identity. We are very confident that J&J wants
us for our know-how and our people. That is why we are
enthusiastic about becoming part of the biggest healthcare firm
in the world.”

Van Herk Groep had said previously it planned to attend the
meeting but declined to comment further.

The J&J bid values Crucell at 2.023 billion euros, while the
stock market value is 1.956 billion.

When J&J first announced its bid, back in September, the
offer price was at a 58 percent premium to the last close of
15.70 euros.

But since that date, Crucell has been hit by problems at a
South Korean vaccine production plant, which had a material
impact on its third-quarter earnings and full-year outlook.

Crucell halted shipments of its paediatric vaccine Quinvaxem
and its hepatitis B vaccine Hepavax-Gene in October, pending an
investigation into whether sterilisation operations at the plant
had been compromised.

It was forced to take a charge, resulting in a third-quarter
net loss of 27 million euros and Crucell said last month it saw
full-year revenues in line with last year but expected a 2010
operating loss of 20-25 million euros. [ID:nLDE69R21F]
(Editing by Sara Webb)

Crucell CEO urges shareholders to accept J&J offer