BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Cambridge-based biotechnology company Genzyme is being bought by French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis for $20.1 billion, ending months of corporate haggling.

Genzyme has more than 4,500 employees in Massachusetts.  It’s the largest biotech company in the state.

It’s not clear yet if any local jobs will be lost.

“It’s premature to say what the impact will be on jobs,” Bo Piela, communications director for Genzyme, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

“Massachusetts is important to Sanofi.  They want to make an investment here.  They want to grow here.  It’s a world center of innovation.  But those decisions will be made by an integration committee that will get started today.”

Piela talks to WBZ’s Laurie Kirby

According to the Boston Globe, Sanofi plans to keep a “sizable presence” here.

“Sanofi-Aventis originally proposed an acquisition at $69 per share, but that proposal was rejected by our board as not fully reflecting the value of the company.  But over a period of time, the two sides were able to come to an agreement at a price of $74 per share,” Piela said.

Sanofi-Aventis said Wednesday it has also agreed to make additional cash payments to Genzyme shareholders contingent on the success of several of it’s drugs.

Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher on how deal affects Genzyme

The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close sometime in April.

“Sanofi intends to operate Genzyme as a separate division.  We will retain our Genzyme name and we will become Sanofi’s world center for rare diseases and biotechnology,” Piela said.

Genzyme’s founder and CEO Henri Termeer will step down as chairman and CEO following completion of the deal, but will keep a consulting role as co-chairman.

Genzyme’s drugs for rare genetic disorders are in a hot niche for big pharmaceutical companies trying to diversify beyond blockbuster pills that get slammed by cheaper generic rivals after a decade or so.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (3)
  1. Dripable says:

    I agree completely.

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