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Sanofi CEO 'Committed' to Buying Genzyme

Sanofi CEO 'Committed' to Buying Genzyme [Boston Herald]

From Boston Herald (MA) (January 12, 2011)

Jan. 12--Genzyme Corp. Chief Executive Henri Termeer said the sometimes testy relationship between his Cambridge biotech company and suitor Sanofi-Aventis has improved since the French pharmaceutical giant made an unsolicited bid for Genzyme last summer.

"This is not a war," Termeer told reporters yesterday after both he and Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher delivered separate presentations at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

After Sanofi’s initial bid to take over Genzyme last June, Termeer said, "it was a little bit tense" between the two companies.

"But it never deteriorated. It actually improved," Termeer said. "We found a way to talk."

Though Termeer and Viehbacher downplayed the possibility of an imminent takeover, Termeer’s remarks tended to confirm that the two sides are inching toward a multibillion-dollar deal.

After months of arms-length shots at each other, top officials at both companies are now holding discussions about a possible transaction, though Termeer said he and Viehbacher have yet to discuss a deal face-to-face.

Termeer confirmed that negotiations over Genzyme’s new drug to treat multiple sclerosis has become a key sticking point in talks.

Rejecting Sanofi’s original $69-per-share bid, Genzyme has insisted that the company’s value is much higher, partly due to the potential of its alemtuzumab drug.

Genzyme may have suffered a negotiating setback yesterday when it reported preliminary fourth-quarter revenue of $1.15 billion that was slightly lower than expected. But Wall Street did not punish Genzyme’s stock.

Viehbacher said Sanofi was "still committed" to buying Genzyme.

"Everyone’s busy talking about India and China, but you can’t write off the United States," he said yesterday. "It’s become important for us to do a deal in the U.S."

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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Posted: January 2011