DRUG company Elan (ELN.I) said on Friday it will start a formal sale process in light of expressions of interest received to date.
Royalty Pharma ROYPH.UL, which has made a hostile bid of up to $8bn for Elan, will be invited to participate if it so wishes, Elan said in a statement.
Elan urged its shareholders not to tender into Royalty's current offer.
Meanwhile, US giant Johnson & Johnson sold 25.4 million shares of Elan, ending a four-year relationship between the New Jersey-based company and the Dublin-based Elan.
Johnston bought an 18pc stake in Elan for $1bn in 2009 and took over development of Alzheimer’s disease drug bapineuzumab. The medicine, designed to slow Alzheimer’s by reducing amyloid plaque buildup, failed last year in the final stage of testing.
The company old 82 million shares back to Elan in April.
It sold the remaining stake late yesterday for $332.5m.
Johnston said the sale wasn’t related to Royalty Pharma’s offer.