Sanofi said to be planning $20bn acquisition in US

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sanofi-aventis, Sanofi aventis

Rumour has it that French drug giant Sanofi Aventis is planning to make a $20bn (€16bn) acquisition in the US with speculation that biotechs like Allergan, Biogen Idec and Genzyme are among the targets.

The speculation was sparked by a Bloomberg ​report late last week which stated that, according to unnamed sources, Sanofi’s board has met to consider a potential billion dollar US takeover.

While Sanofi has not commented, most observers agree that such an acquisition would be in keeping with the strategy CEO Christopher Viehbacher has employed since his appointment in 2008, which has seen the firm spend $17bn on 25 acquisitions.

In the last few weeks for example Sanofi bought US biopharmaceutical company Targegen, which is a developer of small molecule kinase inhibitors. And, while the Targegen deal's $560m value would be dwarfed by the rumoured takover, it does indicate that Sanofi is still looking to grow through acquisitions.

In addition, a large-scale acquisition would also fit with the general trend that has seen a number of Sanofi’s Big Pharma peers spend on M&A to replenish revenue from patent threatened products.

Perhaps the move would offset some of the losses the firm incurred with the launch of generic versions of Eloxatin (oxaliplatin) and Plavix (clopidogrel) and help protect the drugmaker against future generic competition for some of its leading products.

Biotech?

Miller Tabak & Co analyst Les Funtleyder was one observer who suggested a biotech firm like Allergan, Biogen Idec or Genzyme could be a likely target.

He told Reuters that such a deal would be in keeping with Sanofi’s development of late, adding that the firm “has been moving away from its pure play pharma model​.”

This idea was supported by UBS analyst Fabian Wenner who told the newswire that Sanofi needs to boost its antibody offering and that this puts both Biogen and Allergan in the frame as possible takeover candidates.

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