Sanofi sticks to Genzyme offer as hikes targets

Sanofi-Aventis said it was “not obvious at all” it would need to lift its hostile $18.5bn (£11.6bn) bid for Genzyme as quarterly earnings beat forecasts and let the French drugmaker lift its profit target for the year.

Genzyme executives last week began a quest to show that the US biotech group is worth more than the $69 a share Sanofi has offered, saying based on their new 2011 earnings forecast its value could be as much as $89 a share. But Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher didn’t buy into what he called Genzyme’s “rosy” forecasts, saying yesterday Sanofi would stay “patient and disciplined” and keep all options open while still wanting to talk to Genzyme’s board about the firm’s value. Net income excluding amortisation and one-offs rose 8.9 per cent to €2.47bn (£2.1bn), but fell 2.2 per cent at constant exchange rates, compared with an average outcome of a Reuters poll for €2.31bn. Sales rose 5.7 per cent to €7.82bn against a forecast €7.63bn, but fell 1.7 per cent at constant exchange rates as generic competition mounted.

Lovenox, Sanofi’s second-biggest selling drug last year, became the latest to face generics. Bloodthinner Plavix and cancer drug Eloxatin already face limited generic rivalry.