04 February 2004 15:21 [Source: ICIS news]
FRANKFURT (CNI)--The supervisory board of Franco German pharmaceuticals group Aventis was meeting on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France to discuss management’s latest proposals for deflecting the Euro48bn ($60bn) hostile bid from French rival Sanofi-Synthelabo.
Aventis has so far declined to comment on any reports of its bid defence plans. In addition to other scenarios, it has been suggested that Aventis might be seeking to sell more than just drug assets. It also could be interested in selling a stake in the company to another minority shareholder that could form a voting block with Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC), which holds 13.5%.
In any case, Aventis has openly sought to include employees in its strategy, especially the 9000-strong German workforce, which holds 3% of the company's share capital. German employees met Tuesday in Frankfurt to discuss the hostile bid with local management and, via teleconference, with top company executives in Strasbourg.
Sanofi’s bid for Aventis was “a joke, like the tail trying to wag the dog,” Heinz-Werner Meier, president of Aventis PharmaDeutschland, told the gathering of about 5000 employees.
“We don’t want to be bought out, not even at a higher price,” Meier said. “There are other strategies that make more sense.”
The German pharmaceuticals chief executive called on the French government to “stay out” of the struggle. “We can fight with Sanofi alone, but we can’t take on the French government," he said.
Meanwhile, the German council on unfair advertising practices has filed for an injunction in the Frankfurt district court to block Sanofi’s advertisements showing a sick child who, it is suggested, could be cured sooner if Aventis gains more critical mass in a merger with Sanofi.
The advertising watchdog said the wording suggests that this child's future could depend upon Aventis shareholders agreeing to a merger. Sanofi has now agreed to withdraw the advertisements in Germany. However, the injunction request has not been cancelled. Should the court find that the advertisements violate the fairness code, Sanofi could be fined up to Euro250 000.
In an interview with a German newspaper today, Sanofi’s German board member, Hanspeter Spek, said that the Euro1.6bn in synergies estimated for the merger with Aventis were calculated on the basis of synergies achieved in the merger of Sanofi and Synthelabo.
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