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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-Sanofi dividend not affected by Genzyme-CFO

* Debt from deal would be paid back in four years or less

* Buy would have positive impact on dividend in medium-term

* Sanofi shares close 0.6 pct lower at 50 euros

(Writes through, adds details, CFO comments, background)

By Noelle Mennella

PARIS, Nov 19 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis's SASY.PA bid for U.S. biotech group Genzyme GENZ.O would not affect Sanofi's dividend policy in the short term, Chief Financial Officer Jerome Contamine said on Friday.

Investors in the U.S rare-disease specialist have until Dec. 10 to tender their shares for Sanofi’s all-cash, $69-a-share offer and earlier this month Sanofi called on Genzyme not to block the proposed takeover but to let shareholders decide. [ID:nLDE6A71XO]

Speaking at the Actionaria shareholder event in Paris, Contamine repeated that Sanofi would not call on shareholders to help finance the $18.5 billion operation, for which Sanofi has obtained $15 billion in financing.

“The size of Genzyme is within the group’s financial reach, so indebtedness should be a little below 2 billion euros at the end of 2010,” Contamine said. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For other stories on the Genzyme bid battle click on:

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Debt generated by the operation would be paid back “in the coming four years, perhaps faster,” he added.

Contamine said he could not predict how long the acquisition would take because “in the United States, it is not enough that shareholders sell their shares, the board of directors must also give its approval.”

He added that “many Genzyme shareholders think there is a certain logic in the fact that their company would become part of the portfolio of a large group.”

Sanofi had predicted that many other companies would not be ready to make an offer for Genzyme “so we would not have too much competition, which turns out to be the case and allows us to have a little patience,” he said.

He added that in the medium-term the deal would have a positive impact on dividends.

Sanofi shares closed 0.6 percent lower at 50.00 euros, while the CAC-40 index .FCHI closed 0.2 percent lower. (Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford; Editing by David Holmes)

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