23 January 2004 11:51 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Aventis’ denial Friday of merger talks and its dismissal of the “possibility” of a hostile takeover in the pharmaceuticals sector has failed to rule out speculation of a bid for it by French rival Sanofi-Synthelabo.
Speculation surrounding a possible aggressive bid by Sanofi-Synthelabo contributed to its share price falling 5.56% to Euro58.60 on the Euronext exchange by 12:00 hours (11:00 GMT).
No one at Sanofi-Synthelabo returned CNI’s calls.
Aventis confirmed to CNI that its chairman Igor Landau said a merger deal is not a priority for the French life sciences group though a tie-up with some company down the line could not be ruled out. He said that Aventis would focus on organic growth and developing key therapeutic areas.
Landau added that he didn’t believe in the possibility of a hostile takeover in the pharmaceuticals industry. Last week, at the request of the French stock market authority AMF, Aventis said it was not involved in merger talks.
Aventis’ shares lifted early today on the Paris bourse but fell back by noon to be only 1.4% up to Euro57.55.
Yesterday, Aventis shares increased 5.2% to Euro56.60. Sanofi-Synthelabo’s stock lifted 3.42% to Euro62.05.
According to local reports, French personal care products group L’Oreal, which is one of Sanofi-Synthelabo’s main shareholders (holding 19.5%), could hold a board meeting this weekend to examine the possibility of a bid for Aventis. L’Oreal is believed to be more willing than the other main shareholder, compatriot energy and chemicals group Total, to hold on to its stake in Sanofi-Synthelabo.
The shareholder pact between L’Oreal and Total is due to expire at the end of this year. Total has always indicated that its holding in Sanofi-Synthelabo was not strategic.
(Additional reporting by Doris Leblond in Paris).
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