Sanofi to Buy Genzyme for at Least $20.1B

Ending nearly a year-long saga, Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) agreed to a sweetened buyout from France’s Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY) on Wednesday that values the U.S. biotech giant at just north of $20 billion.

The $74-a-share bid for Cambridge, Mass.-based Genzyme is up from $69 previously and came only after Sanofi publicized an unsolicited bid in October and then launched a hostile takeover in October.

Sanofi is also issuing each Genzyme shareholders a contingent value right for each share they own that could give them an additional cash payment if certain milestones are achieved.

With a value of at least $20.1 billion, the deal marks the second-largest biotech deal ever.

“This transaction will create a meaningful new growth platform for Sanofi-Aventis while expanding our footprint in biotechnology,” Sanofi CEO Christopher Viehbacher said in a statement.

The companies said they expect the transaction to close in the second quarter and add to Sanofi’s bottom line in its first year.

Genzyme has about 10,000 employees and posted 2009 sales of $4.5 billion.

“This transaction represents a new beginning for Genzyme," said Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer. “Sanofi-Aventis believes in what we do, in our people and in our potential. We look forward to building a sustainable future together.”

Shares of Genzyme climbed 1.59% to $75.47 Wednesday morning in the wake of the deal. Sanofi was up 0.26% to $34.58.