Deals, M&A

It’s all quite satisfactory, merci: Sanofi chairman Serge Weinberg shrugs off growing calls for an M&A deal

Serge Weinberg

Sanofi has tried at least twice to land big acquisitions needed to do something to address the underlying problems that plague the French pharma giant. They got beat out twice, once purely on Pfizer CEO’s Ian Read’s willingness to outbid all comers for Medivation and the second time after Actelion took offense at some perceived bad behavior on Sanofi’s part. And they’ve been out in the market kicking tires and doing some road tests.

But don’t let that make you think that the powers that be at Sanofi feel that they need to buy anything. Oh, no.

“(T)here is no ‘absolute necessity’ to conduct these transactions. The group’s (internal) dynamic is satisfactory,” Chairman Serge Weinberg told investors at the annual meeting in Paris, according to a report from Reuters.

If they do buy something, he adds, you can expect some Gallic discipline to show through in the financials.

Olivier Brandicourt

Weinberg is no paper tiger as chairman. He organized the ouster of Chris Viehbacher as CEO — who was definitely not satisfied with the internal dynamics — and exercises real power at Sanofi, where investors have become increasingly restive over the multinational’s inability to close a deal. In the meantime, its franchise diabetes franchise is flagging.

CEO Olivier Brandicourt needs a buyout to help him reorganize the company, at least somewhat, looking beyond their close pact with Regeneron that has delivered some big prospects to the market. But he’s also expressed frustration about the lack of targets and the sky high valuations that are being assigned to tempting biotech targets.

Weinberg may have just explained where the real obstacle to a deal may lie at Sanofi. Staying disciplined and completing a deal won’t be easy, especially when the chairman is ready to shrug off repeated shoves toward the bargaining table.


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