Sanofi eyes cost cuts and deals for vet unit

In the wake of its decision to abandon an animal-health joint venture with Merck, Sanofi is revamping its strategy for its vet business. As Sanofi fully integrates Merial, the animal-health unit it once held in joint venture with Merck, CEO Christopher Viehbacher (photo) is looking for ways to cut costs and beef up through acquisitions, the Financial Times reports.

When Merck and Schering-Plough prepared to merge, Sanofi bought out the former's share of the Merial joint venture. The idea was for Merial to later merge with Intervet, SP's vet business. But with antitrust concerns looming, the two companies decided not to pursue the second phase of that strategy.

Sanofi is now looking at opportunities for "synergy" in Merial's back-office operations, manufacturing, marketing and R&D, Viehbacher told the FT. He's also looking for new takeover targets in animal health, particularly in emerging markets. Those deals are likely to be "not of significant size," he said.

"It's not as happy as the merger, but the good news is we own all of Merial and there is a happy ending," he told the FT, stressing that the structure allowed Sanofi to fully consolidate its animal health operations.

- read the FT story