Sanofi launches $1.92B Zentiva offer

Make way for Sanofi-Aventis. The French pharma has officially launched a $1.92 billion counterbid for Zentiva, the Czech generics maker. It's a 14.6 percent premium over Zentiva's closing price the day before PPF Group announced its buyout bid--and 1,050 crowns per share compared with PPF's bid of 950 crowns. At Sanofi's price, the value of Zentiva would be $2.69 billion.

Zentiva officials now say they'll comment on the offer, which they had avoided doing since Sanofi announced its plans to make a bid last month. Zentiva wasn't so shy when it came to PPF's lower offer; the Czech company flat out told shareholders that PPF's bid was too low.

You'll recall that Sanofi bought a 24.9 percent stake in Zentiva back in 2006 for $518 million. The new bid is for the remaining 75.1 percent--but PPF owns 19.2 percent in partnership with an Italian insurer. If Sanofi can assemble a patchwork of other major shareholders--including management and employees at 5.9 percent--it could reach a 48.5 percent share--and then would only have to get a few minority shareholders on board. The offer is contingent on Sanofi amassing more than 50 percent of the company.

- here's Zentiva's statement
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