* Sanofi to buy back CVRs for up to $152 mln
* Will pay between $1.50 and $1.75 per CVR
(Adds details, background)
PARIS, Sept 4 Sanofi plans to buy back
up to $152 million worth of certificates linked to the success
of Genzyme drugs, a move that signals its growing confidence in
Lemtrada, a multiple sclerosis that is awaiting approval from
The French drugmaker said on Tuesday it would buy about 30
percent of its outstanding contingent value rights (CVR)
, which are linked to its 2011 purchase of U.S. biotech
Genzyme, for between $130 and $152 million.
Lemtrada was the main sticking point in the protracted
merger talks between Sanofi and Genzyme. At the time, Sanofi
Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher's team was keen to talk down
its prospects. Genzyme had projected peak Lemtrada sales of $3.5
billion a year, while Sanofi pitched the number at around $700
The final deal between the two companies included a
contingent value right, a tradeable security that gives payouts
to Genzyme investors if certain revenue targets are met, to
bridge their differences.
CVR holders could receive as much as $14 per CVR, or $3.8
billion, by the end of 2020 if Lemtrada meets its most ambitious
The CVRs, however, have been trading at a significant
discount to the $2.30 price they began trading at in April 2011
given the risks tied to a new drug that has yet to be approved.
Sanofi said it would pay between $1.50 and $1.75 per CVR, a
premium of between 7.1 and 25 percent to their last price of
$1.40 on Aug. 31. Its offer will run until Oct. 5.
Despite a recent setback at the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, when the regulator asked Sanofi to refile its
marketing application for the drug, Lemtrada could be launched
in 2013 if it wins approval.
It is one of the new products the French drugmaker is
betting on to restore growth after losing several aging
blockbusters to generic rivals.
The drug, chemically known as alemtuzumab, is already used
under a different dosage to treat blood cancer under the brand
In a further sign of confidence in the prospects for
Lemtrada, Sanofi has pulled Campath from the market, but will
continue to provide it through patient access programs.
Sanofi shares were trading 0.7 percent lower at 66.06 euros
at 0749 GMT, underperforming the CAC40 index, down 0.2
(Reporting by Elena Berton and James Regan; Additional
reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Matt Driskill and