Sanofi chief on a Genzyme fact-finding mission

Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher (photo) may have told Genzyme investors that he won't be "hard-headed" when negotiating a price for their shares. But Viehbacher is plenty hard-headed about pushing for a Genzyme deal. After his attempts to engage Genzyme chief Henri Termeer (photo) went nowhere last week, he's now taking his case directly to the shareholders.

Imagine it: A series of meetings at the Inter-Continental Hotel in midtown Manhattan, where Viehbacher sought investor feedback on Sanofi's buyout offer for Genzyme. That bid stands at $69 currently, but it's widely expected that Sanofi will go higher. The question is, how much? And that's precisely what Viehbacher wanted to find out.

Analysts who met with senior Sanofi execs tell Reuters that the French drugmaker is aiming to meet with half of Genzyme's shareholders by this evening. Based on the results of those meetings, it will decide on its next step. Those analysts say Viehbacher promised not to be too stubborn about price, and that it wanted to sound out investors to make sure enough of them would be on board to make the deal happen.

According to Bloomberg, Viehbacher also said that he doesn't want to bid against himself without getting access to Genzyme's books. He claimed that it's impossible to figure the company's value without that info. After all, Genzyme has some significant manufacturing problems to fix, and it's operating under an FDA consent decree. Perhaps Viehbacher is counting on shareholders to press Termeer to open the doors to negotiation--and due diligence.

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