Sanofi's Viehbacher cites "progress" in takeover talks with Genzyme

Reuters correspondent Ben Hirschler managed to track down Sanofi-Aventis ($SNY) CEO Christopher Viehbacher (photo) in Davos and elicit some upbeat remarks about the company's takeover discussions with Genzyme ($GENZ) executives. And Viehbacher stressed that reaching agreement on a contingent value right package for Genzyme's MS drug Lemtrada may be the key to completing the buyout.

"There are still gaps but I think we have made some progress," Viehbacher told Hirschler. "Whether that is enough to entirely close the gap we will have to wait and see. But I think we would expect that given the forecasts, which we don't necessarily share, that it could be of significant value to Genzyme shareholders."

Sanofi and Genzyme have been miles apart on Lemtrada's future prospects, with each side having a vested interest in either touting peak potential revenue or downplaying it. A CVR could offer Genzyme investors a big reward if it comes close to the biotech's forecast of $3.5 billion in annual sales, or a more modest upside if it comes in close to Sanofi's $700 million.

- here's the report from Reuters