REPORT: Genzyme, Sanofi near merger deal

Reuters is reporting this morning that Genzyme and Sanofi-Aventis have reached an agreement in principal on a merger deal. Quoting sources familiar with the talks, the news wire says that the pact includes a contingent value right agreement, presumably on Genzyme's MS program for Lemtrada. And Reuters added that the deal could be finalized in the next week or two.

The merger deal marks a striking advance for negotiations that have dragged on for months, with only small gains being reported in recent weeks as the two companies have maneuvered around Sanofi's initial $18.5 billion offer. Reuters report did not include any final agreement in principal on the share price Sanofi will pay.

Just hours ago Sanofi-Aventis and Genzyme took another halting step toward one another today, inking a non-disclosure deal that finally gives Sanofi access to its books. While the two companies are still far apart on any kind of final agreement, the move does mark a victory of sorts for Sanofi, which has managed to inch forward in its quest to acquire Genzyme without budging from its initial $69 a share offer. That price initially drew the scorn of top Genzyme executives, who vowed never to open talks until more money was on the table. More recently, though, there have been discussions focused on a contingent value right deal for Lemtrada, an MS program that Genzyme has high hopes for in the near term.

- read the Reuters story
- here's the story from the Wall Street Journal