Sanofi extends £12bn offer for Genzyme by six weeks

City A.M. Reporter
SANOFI-Aventis has extended its snubbed $18.5bn (£12bn) cash bid for US biotech company Genzyme by six weeks, buying the French drugmaker time to persuade its reluctant target to talk.

Only 0.9 per cent of shares were tendered by a Friday deadline, Sanofi said yesterday. Genzyme has rejected the $69 a share bid, arguing it should be higher as the company rectifies a manufacturing crisis and awaits results on its experimental Campath drug for multiple sclerosis.

Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher has said he would consider a higher offer if Genzyme provided a closer look at its business to justify more money.

Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer said the meagre response to Sanofi’s offer shows shareholders “strongly support the view of the board” that the bid substantially undervalues Genzyme. Genzyme’s top shareholders include activist investors Carl Icahn and Ralph Whitworth.

Investors and analysts say an offer price of $75 per share to $80 per share would be more likely to attract shareholders, and the stock has traded above the offer, which Sanofi took hostile in October. Yesterday, Genzyme shares closed up 0.5 per cent to $70.30.