Sanofi nears hire of Morgan Stanley banker as M&A head: Bloomberg

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt

If Sanofi ($SNY) intends to follow through with the strategy new CEO Olivier Brandicourt laid out last month, it has some serious dealmaking to do--and on that front, it may soon be bringing in backup.

The French drugmaker is close to hiring Morgan Stanley banker Alban de La Sabliere as its new head of M&A, sources told Bloomberg. Currently, he's nearing an agreement with the pharma giant, though the sources cautioned that negotiations aren't final.

It wouldn't be the first recent personnel change among Sanofi's dealmakers. In May, the company hired financial consultant Suresh Kumar to head external affairs and become a member of its exec committee, the news service notes. Also that month, Chief Strategy Officer David-Alexandre Gros, who oversaw business development and M&A, headed for the door, and Sanofi's M&A department has been reporting to CFO Jérôme Contamine ever since. Sources also told the publication in September that Sanofi was working to find a replacement for its M&A VP, Jérôme Delpech.

If de La Sabliere does come on board, he'll have his hands full. Brandicourt in November outlined blueprints to boost Sanofi in areas where it's already strong--and where it wants to claim a place among the reigning leaders. That means there's scale to build in multiple sclerosis, oncology, immunology, and consumer healthcare--a field Brandicourt said he planned to beef up through bolt-on acquisitions.

It also means Sanofi will be shedding a pair of its current businesses in animal health and European generics. The company has reportedly already started weighing what to do with its animal health unit, Merial, which offers "limited synergies" with the rest of the company; it's teamed up with Lazard to work out a potential sale or spinoff that could value it at up to €12 billion ($12.7 billion), Reuters reported recently.

Sanofi isn't the only M&A hungry drugmaker who has looked to the investment banking community recently for a lift on the dealmaking front. In September, Illinois-based AbbVie ($ABBV) hired Henry Gosebruch, one of JPMorgan Chase's two co-heads of North American mergers, as its chief strategy officer as a way of "enhancing our focus and recognizing the increasingly important role that corporate strategy and business development will play in our future," spokesman Greg Miley told FiercePharma at the time.

- get more from Bloomberg

Special Reports: Top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Sanofi | Top 10 pharma companies by employees