J&J rises as $9 billion talc lawsuit settlement eases overhang on unit spinoff

Apr 5, 2023

(Reuters) -Johnson & Johnson’s shares rose nearly 4% in early trading to hit a near two-month high of $164.48 on Wednesday as the company’s $8.9 billion offer to settle talc-related lawsuits gained support of thousands of claimants, easing an overhang on its plans to list consumer health unit Kenvue.

Some analysts were positive about the new settlement that is far bigger than the original offer of $2 billion, as they believe it could bring an end to the lawsuit.

J.P. Morgan analyst Chris Schott said in a note the settlement amount was in-line with the brokerage’s estimate of $8 billion to $10 billion.

The company late Tuesday said it secured the support of about 60,000 claimants for the offer who had alleged that talc in its iconic Baby Powder and other products caused cancer.

J&J lawyers reiterated that talc claims lacked scientific merit and accused plaintiffs’ lawyers of continuing to advertise for clients in the hopes of extracting large financial sums.

The settlement follows a January appeals court ruling invalidating J&J’s controversial “Texas two-step” maneuver, in which it sought to offload the talc liability onto a subsidiary LTL Management that immediately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Under the agreement, while J&J and LTL would have retained the talc-related liabilities for products sold in the U.S. and Canada, Kenvue would be responsible for liabilities outside those regions.

“We believe today’s announcement should help the IPO of 20% of the consumer unit,” Credit Suisse analyst Trung Huynh said in a note.

The support of 60,000 plaintiffs represents a supermajority of 75% required for a judge to approve J&J’s restructuring plans, TD Cowen analyst Joshua Jennings said in a note.

    “Overall, we believe the proposed settlement has vast support by the plaintiff supermajority and the top 18 law firms representing the claimants,” Jennings said.

(Reporting by Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)



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