Sanofi to acquire generic pharma company Zentiva for $2B, U.S. chair retires

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Sanofi-Aventis Wednesday will acquire 94 percent of the capital in the generic pharmaceutical company Zentiva for approximately $2.3 billion, in a deal to be finalized next month. The company also reported that Tim Rothwell, chairman of sanofi-aventis U.S., will retire on March 31.

The Paris-based Sanofi said that Zentiva's shareholders, representing 70 percent of its outstanding capital, had tendered their shares in an offer that closed Feb. 20. Including the shares it already owned, Sanofi will hold 94 percent of Zentiva's capital as of March 11.

The Prague, Czech-based Zentiva develops and markets generic drugs in Central and Eastern Europe, including products for cardiovascular diseases, pain and disorders of the central nervous system.

“This operation is a typical example of the kind of acquisition that I want our company to make, as part of our efforts to diversify and strengthen our business in areas where there are attractive growth opportunities,” said Chris Viehbacher, Sanofi's CEO.

Following the acquisition of Zentiva, Sanofi will be the eleventh global generic player on the basis of pro forma 2008 sales.

Sanofi said that Rothwell joined sanofi-aventis in 2003 as president and CEO of Sanofi-Synthelabo U.S., and was instrumental in the formation of sanofi-aventis U.S. in 2004. In March 2007, he became chairman of sanofi-aventis U.S., and has since focused on initiatives to advance its U.S. policy and communications efforts. Previously, Sanofi-Synthelabo, Rothwell served as executive vice president and president of the global prescription business with Pharmacia. From 1972 to 1998, he held management positions in pharmaceutical companies, including Rhone Poulenc Rorer and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.