PARIS May 6 Sanofi (SASY.PA) shareholders
approved a move to drop Aventis from its name on Friday after
buying U.S. biotech Genzyme, seven years after the merger of
France's Sanofi-Synthelabo with Franco-German group Aventis.
The company had said on April 4, when it won control of
Genzyme in a $20 billion deal, that it wanted to shorten the
name as it was difficult to pronounce in several languages,
including in China. [ID:nLDE72U0E2]
Sanofi Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher told shareholders
at its annual meeting that the drugmaker would now slow down
the rhythm of acquisitions, though it would still look at
opportunities to expand in fast-growing emerging markets.
"(Sanofi) will continue to make acquisitions in emerging
countries ... but we have a lot of things to do to make sure
the (Genzyme) integration is smooth, so we will slow down
acquisitions a bit," the CEO said.
He reiterated that animal health was an area where Sanofi
may expand through takeovers.
Still, the priority remained integrating Genzyme and
reducing debt, he said.
Viehbacher also confirmed that Sanofi would maintain its
dividend at the same level or raise it in the coming years,
despite the arrival of generic versions of its drugs eating
into sales. The dividend for 2010 was 2.50 euros a share.
The CEO received total compensation of 3.6 million euros
for 2010, slightly lower than the 3.67 million he received the
previous year, according to a document presented to
shareholders at the Friday meeting.
The value of stock options he was awarded rose to 275,000
euros from 250,000 euros, however.
Viehbacher's fixed salary would remain at 1.2 million euros
for 2011, with the possibility of up to 2.4 million in bonuses.
The value of stock options awarded would rise to 300,000
(Reporting by Noelle Mennella; Editing by Richard Chang)