Sanofi to buy Genzyme for about $20 billion

PARIS (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has agreed to buy Genzyme Corp for $20.1 billion in cash, plus payments tied to the success of the company's drugs, the companies said on Wednesday.

Sanofi will pay $74 a share in cash and a contingent value right for the U.S. biotechnology company. The CVR is a tradable right to additional payments if GENZYME (GENZ.NQ)s multiple sclerosis drug, Lemtrada, reaches regulatory and sales targets or 2011 production volumes of Cerezyme and Fabrazyme are achieved.

Sanofi said the deal would boost business net earnings per share from the first year following its completion, which it expects early in the second quarter, and also predicted it would lift its earnings by 0.75-1.0 euro per share by 2013.

The deal is the second-biggest in biotech history and gives France's Sanofi, which has pursued Genzyme for nearly nine months, a foothold in the market to treat rare diseases. It will help Sanofi compensate for declining revenue from drugs that have lost, or are set to lose, patent protection.

The CVR runs until the end of 2020 and entitles holders to a series of payments worth up to $14 in total, depending mainly on the success of Lemtrada.

Genzyme will become Sanofi's global specialist in rare diseases and maintain a sizeable presence in Boston, where it based, the companies said in a joint statement.