AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Wyeth has withdrawn from talks to take over Dutch biotechnology firm Crucell, sending Crucell shares down as much as 23 percent on Monday.
Shares in Crucell — one of the world’s few remaining independent vaccine makers — had already fallen last week on fears that merger talks between Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, and Wyeth could scupper the talks between Wyeth and Crucell.
Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Sunday that Pfizer was close to finalizing the $68 billion purchase.
Crucell shares fell to 11.90 euros by 3:07 a.m. EST, knocking about 230 million euros ($298 million) off its market capitalization, to trade slightly above the levels seen before the talks between Wyeth were made public on January 7.
“We believe takeover speculation will likely remain a key driver of Crucell’s share price going forward, but the likelihood of such a scenario has become more remote in the short term,” Rabo Securities analyst Fabian Smeets said in a note.
Crucell in November posted its first-ever quarterly profit, boosted by sales of its vaccines and cost savings, and raised its 2008 sales outlook.
The Dutch company’s sales have been fueled by strong growth in its paediatric vaccines, especially Quinvaxem, a vaccine cocktail for the childhood diseases diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B.
Reporting by Niclas Mika; Editing by David Holmes and Mike Nesbit