Sanofi-Genzyme parley brews more conflict

Fresh off the news that Genzyme's board officially nixed Sanofi-Aventis' hostile bid for the company, deal-watchers are gathering, full of speculation and possibilities. Sure, it's no big surprise that Genzyme's directors shrugged off the French drugmaker's $69-per-share offer. But the back-and-forth between the two companies is increasingly tense, and some sources close to the deal suggest that a white knight might surface after all.

One source of tension: Genzyme's disclosure, made to the Securities & Exchange Commission, that Sanofi chief Chris Viehbacher (photo) told Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer (photo) that his range of conceivable bids stretched to $80 per share. Sanofi disclaims that figure, saying that Viehbacher suggested no such thing during his meeting with Termeer. A he-said/he-said argument doesn't exactly bode well for future negotiations.

Meanwhile, the New York Times' sources suggest that companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson have expressed interest in Genzyme. And Genzyme itself announced that it would actively search for an alternative buyer.

Analysts figure that the back-and-forth will continue into next year, Reuters reports. They still consider $75 as a fair price for Genzyme and a good deal for Sanofi. Many of them also still believe that Sanofi will remain the only bidder.

Regardless, Genzyme may continue to hold off its suitor, and for good reason, a Wall Street Journal commentary suggests: Genzyme investors could make more money over the long run if the company stays independent. The question is whether shareholders want to stick around that long--or would prefer cash on the table now.

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