Genzyme dickers over sales deals as Sanofi dangles

When Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher outlined his desire to buy Genzyme for $18.5 billion, he cited the biotech's diagnostics business as one particular area that made an alliance attractive. But as Reuters notes, Viehbacher and Sanofi may never get a chance to see just how well that match-up would work, even if it does coax Genzyme into a deal.

Genzyme already has the diagnostics business, along with its oncology genetics testing ops, up for sale. And it won't wait for Sanofi's next big move before choosing a buyer.

"The processes are continuing and we expect transactions to close by year end," Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer told Reuters. "We are stopping no development at this stage." Termeer has been on the press circuit this week to make clear he'd gladly sell Genzyme--for the right price. And $18.5 billion, he insists, is not the right price.

The two business units generate more than a half billion dollars in annual sales, but Genentech put them on the auction block after mounting a turnaround effort that includes a closer focus on its core business strategy. Reuters even found some interest for a deal at PerkinElmer. But analysts say they're not looking for any fresh sales deals at Genzyme before the faceoff with Sanofi is completed.

"I would be very surprised to see Genzyme go off and sell that diagnostic testing business before they've teased out the Sanofi thing as far as they can go," Jefferies analyst Arthur Henderson tells the wire service. "If they really wanted to disrupt the (Sanofi) discussions that might be a possibility."

- here's the report from Reuters