Sanofi leads pack in €5bn+ pursuit of Solvay; reports

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Solvay, Merck kgaa, Pharmaceutical industry, Bayer

Sanofi-Aventis had a €5bn ($6.6bn) bid for Solvay’s pharma business rejected, according to media reports, but several other companies are believed to be interested in the Belgian firm.

Solvay’s strong pipeline has made it an attractive proposition for Big Pharma, with its 10 compounds in Phase III development including a potentially lucrative Parkinson’s treatment and flu vaccine.

In addition to Sanofi, whose bid was reported by the UK’s Financial Times​, media reports have said that Takeda, Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Bayer and Merck KGaA may also be interested in the Belgian pharma.

Solvay has confirmed “it is proceeding with an analysis of various options for its pharmaceutical activities​”, which includes discussions with third parties. However, “at this stage, this does not involve any other decision in this respect​.”

According to the Financial Times​ Sanofi’s approach to the Solvac holding vehicle that controls 30 per cent of Solvay was rejected because the shareholders believed it undervalued the company.

Citing people familiar with the situation the newspaper said that Solvac rejected Sanofi’s €85 a share offer, with the group believing the pharma business is worth over €100 per share.

Even at this higher price the acquisition of Solvay would still be within the price range that Sanofi’s CEO Christopher Viebacher said the company was looking to make deals at.

Viebacher’s desire to avoid mega-mergers and instead make deals in $5-15bn range would appear to make Solvay a suitable target, especially considering its relatively strong late-stage pipeline.

However, the deal differs from recent reports linking Sanofi to India’s Piramal Healthcare and Brazil’s Medley, which are more in keeping with Viebacher’s goal of shifting focus from the EU and US to create a global healthcare company.

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