Sanofi, Genzyme get closer to deal

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It appears that French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis’ efforts to acquire U.S. biotech company Genzyme are getting somewhere, according to company and media reports.

Genzyme said Monday that talks about the acquisition would involve executives from both companies. Sanofi originally voiced its intent to buy Genzyme for $18.5 billion in late July, or about $69 per share. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, the purchase price may be increased to $80 per share, including a contingent value right, which buyers and sellers might use when they can’t reach a price agreement; Bloomberg reported that the CVR could be worth $5 to $6 per share.

In this case, the CVR would be based on whether or not Genzyme can secure approval of the drug Campath (alemtuzumab) as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. The drug currently is approved to treat leukemia, but according to reports, it may achieve sales of more than $3 billion by 2017 if it wins the approval.

Genzyme had rejected Sanofi’s previous acquisition offers, saying the latter undervalued the former, which in recent years has been troubled by contamination problems at its manufacturing plant in Cambridge. Genzyme specializes in treatments for rare genetic diseases, such as the Fabry disease treatment Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta) and the Pompe disease treatment Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa).

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