Sanofi's M&A misses frustrate some investors in drugmaker

Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:03am EST
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By Matthias Blamont, Noëlle Mennella and Ben Hirschler

PARIS/DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - For the last year, Sanofi's chief executive has made clear his quest for deals to help revive the fortunes of France's biggest drugmaker.

The market is still waiting. Olivier Brandicourt's failure to land two big biotech acquisitions he was chasing has led to growing impatience among some investors.

"The company needs a growth driver and must make an acquisition. Time is running out," said Olivier David of Vega Investment Managers, who holds shares in the company.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos this week Brandicourt defended his track record, citing an unwillingness to overpay for pricey assets and a paucity of good opportunities.

"We can grow without M&A. However, it is a tool which we do continue to consider and which can help growth potentially, only if it makes sense strategically," he said. "The reason why it is so competitive is that you don't have a very, very large number of potential targets."

Sanofi's misses underscore the race for assets as the world's top drugmakers try to replenish their medicine cabinets.

After entering exclusive talks, Johnson & Johnson appears to be closing in on a deal to buy Actelion for some $28 billion, edging out Sanofi, which also tried to buy the Swiss company, according to people familiar with the matter.

It marks a second setback for Brandicourt's M&A ambitions after he was beaten by Pfizer's $14 billion bid for U.S. cancer specialist Medivation last August.   Continued...

A logo is seen in front of the entrance at the headquarters French drugmaker Sanofi in Paris October 30, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo