Thu, Feb 17, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Sanofi agrees to acquire Genzyme


Sanofi-Aventis SA agreed to buy Genzyme Corp, ending a nine-month pursuit of the US biotechnology company with a sweetened offer of at least US$20.1 billion that gives France’s biggest drugmaker treatments for rare diseases.

Genzyme’s stockholders will get US$74 a share in cash, the Paris-based company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. They will also receive so-called contingent value rights that entitle them to payments of as much as US$14 a share depending on the performance of Genzyme’s experimental multiple-sclerosis drug Lemtrada and production levels of two of the company’s other products, the company said.

Acquiring Genzyme, the world’s largest maker of medicines for rare genetic disorders, will help Sanofi chief executive officer Chris Viehbacher offset revenue losses as some of Sanofi’s biggest-selling products face competition from generic versions. Sanofi gains treatments for Fabry, Gaucher and Pompe diseases.

“This agreement with Genzyme is both consistent with our long-term strategy and creates significant long-term value for our shareholders,” Viehbacher, 50, said in the statement.

The offer represents a 48 percent premium over Genzyme’s price of US$49.86 before Bloomberg News reported on July 2 that the company might be a target of Sanofi. The French company announced a US$69-a-share, US$18.5 billion cash bid on Aug. 29, and made a hostile tender offer directly to shareholders on Oct. 4.

The agreement will end Genzyme’s 30-year history as an independent drug developer. Manufacturing glitches in 2009 led to shortages of two drugs and drove the shares down, leaving the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company vulnerable to a takeover.

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