Sanofi CEO promises more deals

Sanofi Pasteur

Watch Sanofi-Aventis (SAN) grow. That's the promise of CEO Chris Viehbacher (photo), who says that he's not only planning to exercise his option to beef up the company's animal health division via a new joint venture with Merck. He's also aiming to make more acquisitions in the vaccine, biotech, and OTC meds businesses, as well as to expand further in emerging markets.

As Bloomberg points out, Sanofi has already sunk $9 billion into acquisitions this year. "There will be more shopping on the horizon," Viehbacher told Bloomberg, adding that he's especially interested in growing Sanofi's vaccines business. Vaccines are a hot ticket in pharma these days, with several companies having announced vaccine-related deals just this week. The market is attractive to Sanofi, Viehbacher said, because it's set to double over the next five years and because it's less vulnerable to competition than the easier-to-copycat drugs business.

As for animal health, Viehbacher told Reuters that Sanofi is likely to move forward on its option to joint-venture with Merck in a bigger-and-better version of the Merial partnership. That's the animal health J.V. they only recently ended when Sanofi agreed to buy out Merck's share. Once Merck and Schering-Plough close their merger, "I think it makes sense to create a world leader in animal health," by combining Sanofi-owned Merial with the the ex-Schering's Intervet business, Viehbacher said.

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Of course, deals require financing, and Sanofi is making some moves on that score as well. The company is negotiating with its banks about extending a $5.39 billion liquidity loan for another year as it refinances a smaller chunk of that debt. Sanofi is also planning a bond sale, in a two-part issue of five-year and 10-year euro-denominated bonds. No word yet on pricing, but BNP Paribas, HSBC and Natixis are managing the sale.

- see the Bloomberg interview
- get more on financing, also from Reuters