Deadline looms for Sanofi-Merck vet combo

There's a loose end hanging from Merial, the animal health company now wholly owned by Sanofi-Aventis. You'll recall that Merck needed to dispose of its Merial stake, to get regulatory approval for its merger with Schering-Plough. Easy-peasy: It sold its half share to its partner.

But neither Merck nor Sanofi was certain that it was ready to be done with the partnership. And given that Merck would acquire more animal health business along with the rest of Schering, the two companies agreed to revisit the issue after that deal closed. So, there's that loose thread: The option to combine the ex-Schering Intervet unit with Sanofi's Merial into another animal-health joint venture.

That's deal's been done for a few months, of course, so folks are looking for signs of Merial movement. Sanofi's call option expires 100 days after the Merck-Schering deal closed, the Wall Street Journal reports, putting the deadline in mid-February. Which, of course, is coming up quickly.

- read the WSJ piece