Sanofi, Genzyme insiders haggle over a starting price

There's no end in sight to the back-and-forth leaking going on between Sanofi and Genzyme insiders as they jockey over a potential buyout pact. With no formal talks underway, Sanofi Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher (photo) tells investors behind the scenes that he's willing to pay $71 a share--but not a penny more. Genzyme investors, meanwhile, have their own story to tell. And they're dropping loud hints that $75 is the absolutely, positively minimum bid needed to get their attention.

DealReporter says that Sanofi is now dangling the $71 offer in hopes of getting some real talks underway. But Bloomberg counters that board members at Genzyme won't get serious about Sanofi until they see $75 on the table. And two key Genzyme figures--Carl Icahn (photo) and Ralph Whitworth--are likely to have a big say.

"Icahn and Whitworth probably have a lot to say to the board," Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer of First Empire Asset Management, tells Bloomberg. "$75 to look at the books is a fair thing for Sanofi to do, and $75 would be something that you would really have to pay attention to."

Sanofi's official spokesperson, though, is standing by the company's rare press release. "There is one offer, at $69 a share," spokeman Jean-Marc Podvin told Reuters today. "No other offer has been made to or discussed with the Genzyme board, its management or shareholders." No one on Wall Street, though, will pay any attention right now to what's being said on the record.

- here's the story from Reuters
- read the Bloomberg report
- and here's the latest from Reuters