Sanofi-Aventis makes $18.5bn Genzyme bid

Genzyme HQ
Image caption Genzyme researches a medication for a range of serious illnesses

French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis has made a $18.5bn (£11.9bn; 14.5bn euros) cash bid for biotechnology firm Genzyme.

Sanofi's interest in the US-based firm emerged earlier this month, but this is its first formal offer.

But Sanofi did not go straight to Genzyme's investors, making a formal approach to the company's board.

Genzyme, which employs about 11,000 people worldwide, researches treatments for a range of serious illnesses.

The offer has been made at $69 per share but observers expect Genzyme to hold out for a higher bid.

Sanofi is France's fourth-largest company by market value.

If the deal went ahead, it may become the biggest corporate swoop on a US firm by a French group since media conglomerate Vivendi's purchase of Seagram in 2000.

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