Sanofi-Aventis launches Genzyme bid

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis has launched an $18.5 billion bid for US biotech company Genzyme Corp.

The bid is said to be aimed at capturing Genzyme’s drugs for high cholesterol and its lucrative treatments for rare genetic disorders.

Sanofi's now hostile $69-per-share offer values the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company at $18.5 billion—the same as its friendly offer made privately to Genzyme’s management in July. Genzyme rebuffed that approach.

The French company has been in discussions with Genzyme shareholders and stated repeatedly that it would go no higher than the original offer.

Commenting on the hostile bid, Christopher A. Viehbacher, Sanofi’s chief executive officer, said: “Our strong perference has been and continues to be to work together constructively with the Genzyme Board to reach a mutually agreeable transaction, but out attempts to do so have been blocked at every turn.

“Our recent meetings with Genzyme shareholders demonstrate that they support a transaction and are frustrated by Genzyme’s unwillingness to engage in constructive discussions with us. This has left us with no choice but to present the offer directly to Genzyme’s shareholders.”

Based in Paris, France, Sanofi had sales in 2009 of €29.3 billion. Boasting a broad portfolio of pharmaceutical products across the prescription medicines, generics, consumer healthcare and animal health sectors, the company is present in both traditional and emerging markets, with more than 100,000 employees in over 100 countries.