Focus at Genzyme now shifts to job security, partnerships

Now that Genzyme is destined to become the center of Sanofi-Aventis' new division for drugs that treat rare diseases, the internal focus at the company has turned to whose jobs and which development programs are at risk.

The Boston Globe reports that a town hall-style meeting at Genzyme featuring CEO Henri Termeer (photo) and Sanofi's Chris Viehbacher (photo) included plenty of angst over possible job cuts. Every major M&A deal concluded in the past few years has paved the way to major layoffs. And many of Genzyme's 10,000 employees--including 4,500 in the Boston area--don't think they're immune to that trend. And Wall Street demands deep cuts to help justify the price paid for a company.

With that in mind, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wasted little time in campaigning against a restructuring. "I've been in regular touch with the CEO of Genzyme and occasional touch with the CEO of Sanofi-Aventis and I will see them today to get some more specifics," Patrick said. "Genzyme is a terrific company and has been growing in the commonwealth and was growing even before our Life Sciences Initiative. Sanofi-Aventis has invested in Massachusetts for the last couple of years because of our Life Sciences Initiative and I'm going to do everything I can to continue that growth."

Viehbacher wanted to start off his new relationship with Genzyme employees by accentuating the positive, vowing that Genzyme's brand will remain intact and that the company is poised for growth. "We don't have financing difficulties,'' he told the crowd, "but we have difficulties finding the right ideas to finance. To me, $20 billion is a lot of money. You don't spend that unless you see value.''

Meanwhile, BioWorld turns its attention to the partnership front, explaining that the acquisition could have big implications for BioMarin, which makes Aldurazyme (laronidase), an enzyme replacement therapy for mucopolysaccharidosis. A change of control clause could prod BioMarin to seek full control of the program. And BioWorld raises questions about other Genzyme partnerships with Isis, Osiris and PTC Therapeutics.

- here's the story from The Boston Globe
- get the BioWorld report
- here's the story from the Boston Herald