Genzyme stock soars on reports it could be sold
Reports that Genzyme Corp. has been approached by French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA about a possible acquisition sent the Cambridge biotechnology company's up by more than 15 percent for the day.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that Genzyme executives had informally spoken about a sale with Sanofi Aventis. CNBC also said the companies were in contact with each other.
Genzyme, which makes drugs to treat rare diseases, is the state's most valuable biotechnology company, with annual revenue of more than $5 billion.
Since a viral contamination at its Allston manufacturing plant last year, it has been struggling to regain its footing and has been under increased scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration.
Last month, the company struck a deal that headed-off a possible confrontation with activist shareholder Carl C. Icahn, who had been attempting to get himself and three hand-picked nominees appointed to Genzyme's board of directors. Icahn, the company's largest investor with about 5 percent of its stock, has been critical of how the biotech company is being managed and suggested that long-time chief executive Henri A. Termeer might have to be replaced.
Under an agreement with Icahn, he gained two seats on the board, which was expanded from 10 to 13 members.
Genzyme's best-selling drug is Cerezyme, which treats the rare genetic disorder Gaucher disease. The drug can cost more than $200,000 for each patient annually.
Sanofi-Aventis this month announced a $65 million expansion of its presence in Cambridge by opening a joint headquarters for a cancer division. The project is expected to create about 300 jobs in Cambridgeport. (To read a Globe story about the company's Cambridge plans, please click here.)
Earlier this year Hanspeter Spek, president of Sanofi-Aventis's global operations, told analysts and investors in a conference call that Cambridge is "the heart of oncology today."
Genzyme shares closed at $62.52, up $8.35.