Sanofi-Aventis SA has reached an agreement in principle to buy Genzyme Corp for $19.2 billion in cash plus future payments based on the performance of an experimental Genzyme drug, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks.
Below are some key facts about Sanofi, currently the world's fourth-largest drugmaker by sales according to IMS Health, and Genzyme, a pioneering biotechnology company which specializes in drugs for rare diseases:
Sanofi-Aventis is the product of numerous mergers and acquisitions. It became the world's third-largest drugmaker in 2004 when Sanofi-Synthelabo -- formed by merging subsidiaries of Total and L'Oreal in 1999 -- bought Aventis.
Sanofi named Chris Viehbacher as chief executive at the end of 2008. He has been diversifying the group into areas like animal health and consumer health to deal with the loss of patent protection on top-selling drugs that will dramatically hurt sales through 2013.
Sanofi has about 102,000 employees in 100 countries.
Name Disease 2010 sales in euros
Lantus Diabetes 3.510 bln
Lovenox Blood thinner 2.806 bln
Taxotere Cancer 2.122 bln
Plavix Blood thinner 2.083 bln
Aprovel Blood pressure 1.327 bln
Eloxatin Cancer 427 mln
Earlier this month, Sanofi predicted 5-10 percent lower business earnings per share for 2011, at constant exchange rates. It said this did not include any benefit from a Genzyme deal, nor the damaging effects of a return of generic copies to cancer drug Eloxatin.
Genzyme was founded in 1981 by Henry Blair, an enzymologist who had been collaborating with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a treatment for Gaucher disease.
For more than 25 years, it has been led by Henri Termeer, a Dutchman.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Genzyme has about 10,000 employees and posted revenue in 2009 of $4.5 billion.
Name Condition 2009 revenue
Cerezyme Gaucher disease $793 million
Sevelamer Renal disease $707 million
Fabrazyme Fabry disease $431 million
Synvis Osteoarthritis $329 million
KEY PIPELINE PRODUCTS
Alemtuzumab Multiple sclerosis
Mipomersen High-risk hypercholesterolemia
Eliglustat tartrate Gaucher disease
(Source: Sanofi, Genzyme)