Genzyme begins takeover talks with Sanofi-Aventis

US-based Genzyme Corporation, the world's third-largest biotechnology company, has reportedly begun talks with Sanofi-Aventis, after the French drugmaker sent an $18.4-billion takeover proposal over the weekend, according to Reuters.

Reuters yesterday reported, citing sources familiar with the situation that Sanofi-Aventis sent a takeover proposal to Genzyme, valuing the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company at $69 a share or approximately $18.4 billion.

But both companies widely differ on valuations and another source told Reuters that Genzyme was unlikely to accept a deal under $80 per share, or $21.4 billion.

Making Genzyme into an acquisition target is likely to draw other pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to it, which had approached Genzyme earlier askijng to be kept in mind if the biotech research firm did decides to sell itself.

With the pharmaceutical industry in a consolidation phase, large drug makers are keen to expand their product portfolio to beat competitions and expanding their pieline with patent expiry drawing closer.

Early last month, Bloomberg had reported that the Sanofi-Aventis was preparing to make a major acquisition in the US in a deal that may be worth around $20 billion. (See: Sanofi-Aventis gearing to make US acquisition worth $20 billion: report)