Which drugmakers are likely to be the biggest dealmakers of 2014? The direct evidence is trickling in. Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher, for instance, says he's looking to spend up to €2 billion on deals next year, or about $2.7 billion.
Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher has been talking about a return to growth for some time now. It's sort of the boy who cried wolf, but in reverse. Viehbacher hasn't been warning of a threat, he's been promising a boon.
On the path into emerging markets, drugmakers have stumbled across a thorny regulatory bush here, a pricing sinkhole there--not to mention a couple of big bad wolves in the form of Chinese investigators and Indian patent police. But Sanofi CEO Christopher Viehbacher figures that, whatever the obstacles, the journey will pay off.
No buyer's remorse for Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher. Acquiring Genzyme for $20.1 billion in 2011 has paid off handsomely, Viehbacher told the Boston Globe in an interview--and not only in terms of drug sales and new regulatory approvals.
To call Sanofi's earnings release from last month "dismal" might be an understatement, but CEO Chris Viehbacher says the company has the resources to help turn earnings around. The CEO of the French drumaker says the company could make some "opportunistic" moves, and repurchasing a 9% Sanofi stake from L'Oreal or increasing its stake in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to as much as 30% are among them.
Because Sanofi has been investing heavily in emerging markets in recent years to help it offset revenue declines from patent expirations, a 2.3% crash in sales in those markets was a big surprise.
Call it what you will: chutzpah, optimism, wishful thinking, spin-doctoring, or just plain confidence. In any case, the headline on Sanofi's earnings release--"Last Quarter with Significant Negative Impact from Patent Cliff"--was one of the few positive statements on the page.
Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher is feeling under the gun in Europe, where regulators are planning to unlock drug data on top of their repeated demands for deep discounts on therapies. And he's pushing back, threatening to steer a bigger share of his R&D budget to the U.S. and emerging markets, where he doesn't feel so bullied.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has wagered on two preclinical programs for its growing business in ophthalmology drugs. The biotech heavyweight has forked over $20 million upfront and promised up to $45 million in milestones to its major partner Sanofi for full rights to the pair of antibody programs for use against eye diseases.
WIth Sanofi riding the tail end of the latest earnings wave, its sales and profits shortfall feels like more of the same. It hasn't been a good quarter for Big Pharma, and Sanofi's results fall right in line with the rest. Its 5.3% sales drop was less severe than most, while its profits suffered a bit more, with a 34% decline.