French drug maker Sanofi-aventis has concluded its over $20-billion acquisition of Genzyme Corp, a move that will expand the company’s presence in the biotechnology sector, especially in the area of rare diseases.

The exchange offer and withdrawal rights expired on April 1 and 224.53 million shares of US-based Genzyme were validly tendered and not withdrawn, marking around 84.6 per cent of Genzyme’s outstanding shares.

All the shares that were validly tendered and not validly withdrawn have been accepted for purchase, Sanofi said in a statement, adding that the payment will be made at the offer price of $74 in cash and one contingent value right or CVR per share.

“The addition of Genzyme represents an important milestone in Sanofi-aventis’ sustainable growth strategy by adding a meaningful new growth platform and expanding our footprint in biotechnology.

“Combined, our two companies will bring tremendous expertise, commitment and resources to biotechnology, particularly in rare diseases,” the Sanofi-aventis CEO, Mr Christopher A. Viehbacher, said.

To allow the remaining Genzyme shareholders to tender their shares, Sanofi has commenced a subsequent offer period beginning April 4 on the same terms as the initial offer and expiring on April 7.

In February, Sanofi-aventis said it would buy Genzyme Corp for over $20 billion, ending months of uncertainty over the acquisition.

Under the deal, each Genzyme shareholder was to also get one CVR, entitling them to additional cash payments on achieving specified milestones related to multiple sclerosis drug Lemtrada.

The deal will see Genzyme, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sanofi-aventis, become an important new platform in the French drug maker’s sustainable growth strategy.

Sanofi-aventis said its global footprint and significant resources will create new long-term growth opportunities for the combined company, particularly in the emerging markets. It will also give the French pharma firm access to the market for drugs used in the treatment of rare diseases.

Sanofi-aventis, which has a significant presence in India and employs over 1,800 people in the country, has been pursuing Genzyme since last summer, when it made an initial offer of $18.5 billion.

(This article was published on April 4, 2011)
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