As deadline nears, suitor may have to revise bid for Genzyme

By Robert Weisman
Globe Staff / December 10, 2010

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Sanofi-Aventis SA’s hostile tender offer for Genzyme Corp. expires at midnight tonight. But so far, the French drug maker has given no indication of how many stockholders have agreed to turn over their shares.

Because shares of the Cambridge biotechnology company are still trading above the $69 that Sanofi has offered in its $18.5 billion bid, it is doubtful that many Genzyme investors will opt to cash out.

That means the Paris-based suitor will have to decide whether to extend its offer at the same price, raise the price as Genzyme’s board has demanded, or abandon its attempt to buy the state’s largest biotech.

Jack Cox, a spokesman at Sanofi’s US headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J., declined to discuss the company’s next step.

A Genzyme vice president, Bo Piela, yesterday said the company did not know how many of its stockowners have presented their shares to Sanofi. But he noted Genzyme’s board has rejected the Sanofi bid as inadequate.

“The tender offer at the price of $69 per share does not approach the true value of the company,’’ Piela said.

Genzyme fell 17 cents, 0.2 percent, yesterday but closed at $69.99.

Meanwhile, a New York analyst who surveyed more than 120 Genzyme investors said 90 percent indicated they would not accept Sanofi’s current offer. But Sanofi could win the vast majority of Genzyme’s shares if it boosts its bid to $75 a share or more, according to the poll by Mark Schoenebaum of ISI Group.

“Why would you tender at $69 if you could sell your Genzyme stock for $70 today?’’ Schoenebaum said. “I think $75 clears it for a sizable majority. Sanofi could pay up to the low $80s and it would still be a deal.’’

While tender offers often don’t lead directly to sales of public companies, they can generate pressure on management to negotiate a deal. Schoenebaum suggested that Sanofi may extend its tender offer just to sustain the pressure on Genzyme.

Robert Weisman can be reached at