Sanofi-Aventis launches bid for Genzyme

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French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis said Monday it had launched a hostile 18.5-billion-dollar (13.4-billion-euro) bid for US biotechnology company Genzyme, a proposal Genzyme management spurned in late August.

"Genzyme's refusal to take part in constructive discussions has led Sanofi-Aventis to put forward its offer directly to shareholders," Sanofi said in a statement.

The company said its bid, at 69 dollars per share, would remain open until December 10.

At 69 dollars, the offer amounts to a 38 percent premium on Genzyme's closing share price, 49.86 dollars, on the New York Stock Exchange on July 1, the date on which reports of Sanofi's intentions first surfaced.

Genzyme shares closed at 70.90 dollars on Friday.

Genzyme management has until now insisted that Sanofi's proposal greatly undervalues the US group.

Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer has said an offer pitched at 80 dollars a share would more accurately reflect the value of the company.

But the head of Sanofi-Aventis, Christopher Viehbacher, insisted Monday that "our offer reflects both the growth potential of the company and the operational challenges that are confronting it."

© 2010 AFP

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