Sanofi launches hostile Genzyme bid; Pfizer close on Uplyso Brazil deal

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

French drugmaker Sanofi Aventis has tabled an $18.5m, $69 per share, hostile takeover bid for Genzyme after failing to secure an amicable acquisition.

The Paris-headquartered drugmaker said it decided to approach shareholders directly as a result of the repeated refusal to of the US biotechnology firm’s management to “engage in constructive discussions​.”

Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher focused his frustrations on counterpart Henri Termeer whose refusal to engage, he said, is denying “shareholders an opportunity … to realize immediate liquidity and to protect against the risks associated with Genzyme's business and operations​."

He went on to say that: “Sanofi Aventis would put its full resources behind Genzyme to invest in developing new treatments, enhance penetration in existing markets and further expand into emerging markets​,” adding that the firm is “well positioned to help Genzyme address its manufacturing problems​.”

The focus on risk and fixing production problems is clearly designed to attract the attention of Genzyme shareholders weary of the manufacturing problems the firm encountered over the last two years​.

Genzyme, which has not yet responded to the latest announcement, said in August that Sanofi’s $69 per share offer was unrealistic and last week Termeer to the Financial Times​ that $80 per share would be a fairer value.

Prizer/Protalix

Most observers suggest Sanofi’s interest in Genzyme is motivated by its need to bolster its pipeline with hard to copy pharmaceuticals ahead of patent expiry for existing products.

And, on the face of it, Genzyme’s portfolio of niche biologic products, particularly those for rare genetic disorders that dominate their respective markets appear to fit the bill.

However, for one Genzyme product, the Gaucher’s disease drug Cerezyme which was sevearly affected by last year’s Allston manufacturing problems, the market may be about to be more competitive.

According to the Israel Business News Pfizer and partner Protalix may be about to sign a deal with the Brazilian government that will see their rival product Uplyso become the first line treatment for the country’s 600 Gaucher’s disease sufferers.

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