Termeer: Genzyme open to selling noncore businesses

Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) is open to selling off some of its noncore businesses, CEO Henri Termeer (photo) said Tuesday at the Health Blog HQ, according to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog. The company will brief analysts and investors about its more peripheral businesses at a May 6 meeting in Boston, when it also will reveal details about its individual operations.

Termeer says he is committed to getting the company through its current issues and also wants to build out the company's multiple sclerosis business next year. After that, he might be willing to move on, the WSJ Blog reports. The blog points out that such a sale would likely make another activist investor, Relational Investors head Ralph Whitworth, happy. Whitworth recently joined Genzyme's board.

But Carl Icahn (photo) is lurking. Termeer made his announcement as the billionaire investor's group filed SEC documents saying "Genzyme's inability to  fully manufacture and supply certain of its products leads to the conclusion that the manufacturing system at Genzyme is 'broken.'" But if his nominees are elected to the board, they "will work...to understand and then help Genzyme correct what  they believe is "broken."

However, Termeer hasn't been receptive to Icahn's advances. Icahn managed to get himself and three associates nominated to the biotech's board this year. But the foursome are also stakeholders in Biogen Idec, which has its own MS treatments--Avonex and Tysabri--that would compete with Campath if the blood cancer drug were approved for MS. Termeer says Icahn is heavily invested in Biogen Idec and is already on "way too many boards."

- see Icahn's SEC filing
- here's the WSJ Blog's coverage