French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis yesterday carried through with its threat of launching a hostile bid for rival Genzyme.
The firm has taken an offer of $69 (£44) a share directly to investors, valuing the firm at $18.5bn, after Genzyme management refused to negotiate.
The move comes a month after Genzyme rebuffed an approach from Sanofi at the same price. Sanofi has since been talking to Genzyme investors, who it said were frustrated by the management’s stubborn approach.
Sanofi’s unsolicited offer, all in cash, will expire on 10 December.
Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher said: “Sanofi-Aventis has a history of being a patient, disciplined buyer. We believe the offer will be successful ultimately.”
Viehbacher, who wants to buy Genzyme to boost Sanofi’s drug portfolio as sales of older medicines decline, said his strong preference was for friendly talks, but he had decided to start a tender offer because of Genzyme’s refusal to enter discussions.
Viehbacher said he met with Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer but the talks were “unproductive”. Sanofi says it has also talked with Genzyme shareholders who own more than 50 per cent of the group, and these people support the bid.