Sanofi chief hunts for support among Genzyme investors

Sanofi Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher (photo) is taking his case for acquiring Genzyme for an unappreciated $69-per-share offer directly to an influential group of Genzyme investors, according to several reports from business news wires. And sources tell Bloomberg Viehbacher complained that the big biotech company wasn't providing any feedback on Sanofi's offer--despite the loud rejection voiced by Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer (photo) in a string of recent media interviews.

"Due to the great interest in Sanofi-Aventis' offer, Mr. Viehbacher has decided to set aside time to meet with a selection of Genzyme shareholders to discuss the proposal while in the country for other previously scheduled meetings," Sanofi tells Bloomberg in an e-mail.

ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum tells Reuters that Viehbacher plans to meet with half of Genzyme's investors by tonight, at which point Sanofi may make a new move. But he's trying to find what price investors would accept to assure himself that a deal can be done without getting bogged down in a lengthy and ultimately fruitless set of negotiations.

The leaders of Sanofi and Genzyme may not be saying much to each other, but they've had a field day with selective leaks and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, as the pharma company presses its $18.5 billion buyout offer against a Genzyme board and CEO who appear to have dug their trenches around $80 per share. Termeer has made it crystal clear that he wants much, much more than Sanofi has bid so far. But with no signs of a new bidder coming to the table anytime soon, Viehbacher can apply pressure on investors in the hopes that some will become champions for the pharma company's bid.

- get the story from Bloomberg
- here's the Reuters report