Drugs firms Abbott and Sanofi announce £24bn worth of deals

Variety of medical pills Image copyright EyeWire

Consolidation is continuing in the pharmaceutical industry with Abbott Laboratories and Sanofi both announcing multibillion dollar expansion efforts.

Abbott is beefing up its cardiovascular device business after agreeing to buy St Jude Medical for $25bn (£17bn).

Sanofi has made a play for cancer therapy drugs with an unsolicited bid for Medivation, worth $9.3bn (£6.4bn).

The two deals underline the pressure on large drug makers to expand their product offerings through acquisitions.

Abbott purchase

Abbott has agreed to pay a significant premium to buy medical device maker St Jude, hoping for stronger leverage in its dealings with hospitals.

It will take on £3.9bn of the smaller firm's debt, but total annual sales for the two companies' cardiovascular device units together will top £6bn.

Abbott also said it expected to see pre-tax annual savings of about £340m over the next four years.

Hostile Sanofi

French giant Sanofi's takeover bid for Medivation is proving slightly more complex, and confrontational.

Sanofi badly needs new so-called "blockbuster" drugs and had previously approached the US firm about a deal for its potentially valuable experiment cancer treatments.

But according to Sanofi's chief executive, his counterpart at Medivation had earlier this month declined to meet with the French firm's executives in private, prompting Sanofi to increase the pressure by publicising an offer it had previously submitted by letter.

"We do not understand the delay in responding to our letter," wrote Sanofi chief executive Olivier Brandicourt.

"We are prepared to meet promptly so we can mutually work towards a transaction that benefits our respective stockholders."

The hostile offer could lead to an extended takeover battle.