Sanofi chairman favors Bristol-Myers deal: paper

LONDON Tue Mar 27, 2007 4:58am EDT

Sanofi-Aventis Chairman Jean-Francois Dehecq addresses a press conference in Paris in this April 26, 2004 file photo. Dehecq favors a deal to acquire U.S. rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., while his chief executive emphasizes the need to focus on internal research and development, the Times reported on Tuesday. REUTERS/Jack Dabaghian

Sanofi-Aventis Chairman Jean-Francois Dehecq addresses a press conference in Paris in this April 26, 2004 file photo. Dehecq favors a deal to acquire U.S. rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., while his chief executive emphasizes the need to focus on internal research and development, the Times reported on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Jack Dabaghian

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LONDON (Reuters) - The chairman of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA) favors a deal to acquire U.S. rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY.N), while his chief executive emphasizes the need to focus on internal research and development, the Times reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper said Chairman Jean-Francois Dehecq was in favor of a transformational deal with Bristol-Myers.

At the same time, Chief Executive Gerard Le Fur has emphasized the need to focus on Sanofi's internal drug research and development program, it reported.

The Times cited unnamed banking sources as saying there was a "significant difference" in tactics between the pair.

"It's a question of ego rather than the timing of any deal," one of the sources told the newspaper.

Sanofi, however, denied there was any difference in strategy between its chairman and chief executive, the Times added.

Sanofi and Bristol-Myers have declined to comment on a report in a French newsletter in January that they plan a friendly merger to create the world's biggest drugs company.

The companies also had no comment in February when the Times said talks had foundered due to disagreements over price and legal concerns surrounding Sanofi's top-selling drug Plavix.

Tuesday's Times said if Dehecq's views prevail Sanofi may think about resuming its merger plans with Bristol-Myers after the outstanding Plavix litigation is settled.

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