Sanofi-Aventis targets troubled Genzyme Corp for takeover

Sanofi-Aventis, the world's fourth-largest pharmaceutical company by prescription sales, is in talks to buy US-based Genzyme Corporation, the world's third-largest biotechnology company.

Early this month, Bloomberg had reported that the French pharmaceutical giant is 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)

The paper had said that although Sanofi-Aventis had yet not identified the target, the potential US drug makers that would fit within its $20 billion deal size could be Allergan Inc, Biogen Idec Inc and Genzyme Corporation.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis has made an informal acquisition approach to Genzyme.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said that talks between the companies are in early stages and Genzyme executives are trying to figure out what price Sanofi-Aventis would be willing to pay.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Genzyme is just about recovering from a series of problems related to manufacturing that has dragged its revenues down and helped its rivals to corner market share to proxy fight put up by activist investor Carl Icahn.