Actelion (ALIOY) shares traded sharply lower in Zurich Tuesday following reports that the Swiss biotech is looking at strategies that would keep it independent in the face of a reported $17 billion approach from Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) .

Actelion shares fell more than 5.5% to change hands at SFr179.42 in the opening 40 minutes of trading after the Financial Times said Europe's biggest biotech is exploring ways to combine parts of its company with J&J, including having the U.S. group retain a major shareholding stake, but was not looking at an outright sale at this stage. Actelion's current share price, however, remains 12.5% higher than the Sfr157.8 level it traded prior to initial reports that it was a J&J takeover target.  

Actelion is led by fiercely independent co-founder Jean-Paul Clozel, who has for years resisted suggestions the company is a target.

Other potential suitors for Actelion include France's Sanofi (SNY) , especially since CEO Olivier Brandicourt last month reiterated his interest in acquisitions as it announced plans to sell its European generics business. Sanofi shares gained 1.38% in Paris Tuesday.

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