French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis said Oct. 4 it had launched a hostile $18.5 billion bid for U.S. biotechnology company Genzyme, a proposal Genzyme management spurned in late August.
"Genzyme's refusal to take part in constructive discussions has led Sanofi-Aventis to put forward its offer directly to shareholders," Sanofi said in a statement.
The company said its bid, at $69 per share, would remain open until Dec. 10.
At $69 the offer amounts to a 38% premium on Genzyme's closing share price, $49.86, on the New York Stock Exchange on July 1, the date on which reports of Sanofi's intentions first surfaced.
Genzyme shares closed at $70.90 on Oct.1.
Genzyme management has until now insisted that Sanofi's proposal greatly undervalues the U.S. group.
Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer has said an offer pitched at $80 a share would more accurately reflect the value of the company.
But the head of Sanofi-Aventis, Christopher Viehbacher, insisted Oct. 4 that "our offer reflects both the growth potential of the company and the operational challenges that are confronting it."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010