Drug giant bids $18b for Genzyme

The corporate logo at the Sanofi-Aventis headquarters in Paris.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: French pharmaceutical drug giant Sanofi-Aventis says it wants to buy the American drug company Genzyme for more than $18 billion. The French are turning up the pressure for the deal, after the Americans rejected a smaller offer earlier this summer.

More from Berlin, and reporter Kyle James.


KYLE JAMES: Genzyme is the world's largest maker of medicines for genetic diseases, but has been hit by production problems over the last few years. Still, it's got two potential blockbuster drugs in the pipeline -- one for multiple sclerosis, another for cholesterol. And that makes Genzyme a very attractive candidate to Sanofi.

For one, big drug makers are increasingly looking towards biotech companies for future growth. And another reason is the French drug maker will soon lose a lot of revenue.

OLIVER RAKAU: Many pharmaceuticals are losing their patents on the big blockbusters.

Oliver Rakau is an analyst with Deutsche Bank research. He says Sanofi is now facing generic competition on two of its best-selling drugs.

RAKAU: Therefore they need acquisitions often of small, innovative companies in order to increase their sales again.

While Sanofi's announcement falls short of a hostile bid, media reports say the company might take its offer directly to shareholders. The recent uptick in mergers and acquisitions is especially acute in the pharmaceutical field. Rakau says companies can't just hire more scientists, but need to join up with firms that have research teams and projects already in place.

In Berlin, I'm Kyle James for Marketplace.

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