Sanofi (France)

Profile subscribers click here for full profile

Sanofi is France's national champion in the healthcare sector and now the overall #5 worldwide, with a portfolio led by top-selling diabetes drug Lantus. 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 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 has 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 firm 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.

Selected Sanofi advertising

Which agencies handle advertising for Sanofi? Find out more from the Account Assignments database.

Who are the competitors of Sanofi? See Pharmaceutical Sector index for other companies

Subscribers only: Adbrands profile 
Account assignments & selected contact information

Adbrands Company Profiles provide a detailed analysis of the history and current operations of leading advertisers, agencies and brands worldwide, and include a critical summary which identifies key strengths and weaknesses. Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets. The Adbrands Company Profile of Sanofi summarises the company's history and current operations and also contains the following website links:

Sanofi website

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

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.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th May 2016: French drug giant Sanofi launched a hostile takeover for US oncology developer Medivation after attempts to lure the smaller company into negotiations failed. The latter has enjoyed considerable success with prostate cancer treatment Xtandi, co-marketed by Japan's Astellas, and it has a couple of other promising drugs in the pipeline. However Sanofi's opening offer of $52.50 per share - around $9.3bn total - was spurned by Medivation, and markets have already pushed up the smaller company's shares over $60. Some analysts believe it could be worth as much as $70 to the right buyer. Sanofi indicated it may go higher, but only if Medivation will enter negotiations. Yet the target company has continued to spurn its French suitor. According to Reuters, it will instead allow US companies Pfizer and Amgen to begin preliminary due diligence.

Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Mar 2016: Pharma giants Merck & Co and Sanofi are to dissolve their 22-year-old European vaccines joint venture Sanofi Pasteur MSD. They will take back control of their own respective products, which include Gardasil (owned by Merck), Menactra and FluZone (both Sanofi). The split was prompted in part by GlaxoSmithKline's recent acquisition of the vaccines previously controlled by Novartis, which has allowed it to leapfrog both its rivals and become the new global #1.

Subscribe to to access the full profile and account assignments

Brands & Activities

see full profile


see full profile

Management & Marketers

see full profile


Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Synthelabo was formed in 1970 from the merger of two of France's oldest pharmaceutical companies: Laboratoires Dausse (founded in 1834) and Robert & Carriere (founded 1899). Three years later, cosmetics group L'Oreal acquired a controlling stake in the business. That same year, another French giant, industrial group Elf Aquitaine, acquired rival drug company Labaz and merged all of its various healthcare subsidiaries into a new business which it named Sanofi. For the next 25 years the two French groups competed against each other, as well as with their larger compatriot Rhone-Poulenc, later to become Aventis. Sanofi launched its first major product in 1978, Ticlid. Synthelabo introduced sleeping pill Stilnox and Xatral in France in 1988, and then took a major step into the US in 1993, launching Stilnox there under the name Ambien. Within a year it had become the leading treatment for insomnia.

In 1994, Sanofi also took a leap into the US market, acquiring the Sterling Winthrop healthcare business from Eastman Kodak. Three years later it introduced Avapro, followed by Plavix in 1998, both through a partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb. That same year, the French pharma industry was shaken up by the news of Rhone-Poulenc's acquisition of German drug-maker Hoechst to create Aventis. Wary of being left too far behind by their rival, Sanofi and Synthelabo, then France's #2 and #3 respectively, agreed to join forces, merging to form Sanofi-Synthelabo. Shortly afterwards, to concentrate on the drug business, the enlarged group sold off its various non-pharmaceutical interests. These included the Yves St Laurent fragrance business, which Sanofi sold to retail group Pinault Printemps Redoute. It is now managed by Gucci.

Yet although the group continued to expand strongly, it remained primarily a European company with only limited expertise in other important international markets, especially in the US and Japan. As a result, Sanofi sought the approval of its main shareholders Total (formerly Elf Aquitaine) and L'Oreal to go after Aventis. Sanofi's initial offer valued Aventis at just under €48bn, but the latter company was not at all keen to be targeted by what it perceived as a junior rival. Instead it sought a better offer from more established Swiss company Novartis. This, however, raised the prospect of ownership of Aventis moving out of France. The French government intervened at this point in order to block any such deal. Sanofi sweetened its offer to €55bn, and the Aventis board finally accepted the offer in April.

Gerard Le Fur, the group's chief scientist, became CEO in 2007. However, he left the company in December 2008, in part at least because of his failure to secure US approval for Acomplia. He was replaced by Chris Viehbacher, poached from GlaxoSmithKline. See full profile for current activities

All rights reserved © Mind Advertising Ltd 1998-2018