Sanofi deal strategy will shun hep C in global hunt for new 'pearls'

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And Sanofi ($SNY) CEO Chris Viehbacher may have been paying Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) a compliment when he described his acquisition strategy to Bloomberg as a "string of pearls" approach--borrowing language and a strategy that BMS has used to great effect over the last few years.

What Viehbacher won't be doing, though, is following in Bristol's footsteps in the frenzied hepatitis C field. Bristol, of course, just agreed to shell out $2.5 billion to buy Inhibitex ($INHX), highlighting the premiums that clinical-stage technologies in the field are fetching these days. Viehbacher is steering clear of hep C acquisitions, telling Bloomberg that Sanofi plans to use partnerships to beef up its early-stage research pipelines.

Sanofi is shopping for new pearls in the $2.6 billion-and-under market. And he'd like to do his buying as far from crowded bargaining tables as he can get.

"The trick in M&A is to go find something not everybody is looking at," Viehbacher tells the business news service.

- here's the story from Bloomberg