Sanofi is France's national champion in the healthcare sector and now the overall #5 worldwide. It was formed in 2004 from the hostile takeover of French pharmaceutical giant Aventis by smaller rival Sanofi-Synthelabo. The merged group retained the Sanofi-Aventis name until 2011. A key factor in the takeover was the controversial role played by the French government which successfully steered Aventis away from a combination with Swiss-based Novartis in order to create a local champion that could compete more effectively with American and other European rivals. There have been several other small and medium-sized acquisitions since then. In 2007, the group was reported to have commenced merger talks with US group Bristol-Myers Squibb, which held local rights to Sanofi's Plavix drug, but no deal materialised. In 2009 the group established a presence in the consumer healthcare sector with the purchase of US company Chattem, and made an offer the following year to acquire biotech developer Genzyme. It added to its OTC portfolio in 2017 with a deal swapping its animal health division Merial for the consumer portfolio of German company Boehringer Ingelheim. The following year it agreed to sell its generics division Zentiva. Combined group revenues for 2019 were €36.1bn. However net income plunged by more than a third to €2.8bn as a result of a collection of impairment charges totalling €5.6bn; the largest being a write-off against unsuccessful product Eloctate. Prescription pharmaceuticals contributed a total of €25.7bn, with €4.7bn from consumer healthcare and €5.7bn from vaccines division Sanofi Pasteur. Dupixent, a treatment for severe allergies, became the group's top-seller for the first time at €2.1bn, overtaking patent-expired diabetes drug Lantus, which fell to €2.0bn. Sanofi's only other blockbuster is Aubagio for MS (sales of €1.8bn), but the group has a large collection of other drugs with sales between €500m and €1bn. Key OTC brands include Allegra for allergies, painkiller Doliprane and cough/cold remedy Mucosolvan in Europe, laxative Dulcolax and skincare range Gold Bond in the US. In 2019, Sanofi secured US rights for a non-prescription version of Roche's antiviral Tamiflu. Vaccines include Menactra for meningitis and Fluzone. Olivier Brandicourt stepped down in 2019 after four years as CEO, to be replaced by former Novartis manager Paul Hudson.
Capsule checked 25th July 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 10th Dec 2019: New Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson has wasted little time since he got his feet under the table in September. He inked his first acquisition this week: US biotech Synthorx, which has a promising cancer immunotherapy drug in trial, for $2.5bn. According to trade sources, he has also been canvassing major shareholders for their views on a potential spin-off of the group's sizeable OTC healthcare division. That could generate as much as $30bn of cash with which to fund further pharmaceutical acquisitions. Hudson also announced he would stop investing in diabetes and cardiovascular research after several years of failure in the search for new blockbuster treatments in those fields. Instead, the company will focus its attention on a smaller spread of more specialised segments, including haemophilia, breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, as well as vaccines. The move away from diabetes is a significant change: blockbuster Lantus was still Sanofi's top-seller in 2018, but sales have been in steady decline, and the company has no new promising diabetes products in its pipeline to replace it.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jan 2018: French dug giant Sanofi inked its biggest deal for years with an agreement to acquire hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for a whopping $11.5bn. It is the group's biggest deal since 2011, when it bought Genzyme for $20bn, but the French group has also been pipped to the post in a number of other recent deals, losing Medivation in 2016 to Pfizer, and Actelion last year to Johnson & Johnson. At the same time, it faces an imminent generic threat to its top-selling product Lantus. Bioverativ's top-selling drugs are Eloctate and Alprolix. However, Sanofi will gain rights to them only in North America and Asia. Rights in the EMEA region are already owned by another company.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Aug 2017: There was another blow for Publicis Groupe's media division with the loss of the global account for French healthcare group Sanofi, which had been managed by the old ZenithOptimedia network. WPP's Mindshare becomes the main global agency in all markets except the US and Japan, and WPP will also add selected, as yet undisclosed creative responsibility alongside global incumbents Publicis and Havas. In the US, Havas Media will take over full responsibility for prescription pharmaceuticals, as well as planning for Sanofi's consumer healthcare portfolio, recently boosted by the acquisition of the equivalent division of German company Boehringer Ingelheim. Buying for the OTC business will remain with independent agency KWG, which also hands most creative for that unit. Combined global spend is around €900m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Aug 2016: Pfizer trumped rival Sanofi by clinching a deal to acquire US drug developer Medivation, makers of the blockbuster prostate cancer drug Xtandi (co-marketed by Japanese company Astellas). Medivation was put in play after Sanofi launched a hostile bid for the company in June after several friendly approaches were rebuffed. The biotech developer sought white knight offers from US compatriots Pfizer and Amgen. Pfizer's $14bn deal is almost double Medivation's market cap before Sanofi's original approach.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th July 2016: US drug developer Medivation, makers of top-selling prostate cancer drug Xtandi, softened its stance against French group Sanofi, whose several takeover offers it has repeatedly rejected. It also turned down the latest bid worth around $10bn, but agreed to open its books to the French group, as well as to two other suitors, Pfizer and Celgene. Separately, Sanofi agreed terms to transfer ownership of its animal health division Merial to German counterpart Boehringer Ingelheim, in return for the latter's OTC healthcare unit and €4.7bn in cash. Once that deal completes later this year, Boehringer will become the world's second largest animal health company behind Zoetis with sales of around €3.8bn. Sanofi's enlarged consumer healthcare division would have sales in excess of €4.9bn.
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