French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis plans to make a formal bid to buy Genzyme Corp., for as much as $18.7 billion, Reuters news agency is reporting, quoting unnamed sources.
Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher declined to comment on upcoming deals Wednesday during an earnings call, but said, “We are obviously opportunistic, the group has financial muscle.”
Reuters said sources familiar with the situation said the board of Sanofi met on Wednesday and authorized management to make a formal offer of up to $70 per share for Genzyme, the Cambridge-based biotechnology firm most famous for its rare disease treatments.
The potential acquisition is seen as a blunt against a raft of Sanofi’s drugs going off patent in the next few years and facing challenges by generics that will steeply erode the company’s profits. Cambridge-based Momenta Pharmaceuticals succeeded in gaining approval  for a generic alternative to a Sanofi drug just last week.
Genzyme (Nasdaq: GENZ) closed at $68 per share on Wednesday, but was up to $71.10 in pre-market trading on Thursday.