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Sanofi-aventis to buy Chattem for $1.9bn

Sanofi-aventis is to acquire US consumer healthcare company Chattem in a deal valued at around $1.9bn

Sanofi-aventis is to acquire US consumer healthcare company Chattem in a deal valued at around $1.9bn – equal to £93.50 a share in cash, which is 34 per cent above Chattem's closing price on December 18.

The purchase will create the world's fifth-largest consumer health company by revenue and is in line with CEO Chris Viehbacher's strategy to broaden sanofi-aventis' business.

Viehbacher said the acquisition "will be a significant milestone in sanofi-aventis' transformation strategy" to convert prescription medicines to over-the-counter (OTC) products. He added "we've never had a consumer healthcare presence in the US, Chattem is the ideal entry for us into this market."

The French drugmaker plans to convert Allegra (fexofenadine) to an OTC product. The antihistamine, which has faced generic competition since 2005, saw branded sales of €688m ($985m) last year.

Viehbacher explained "we've had significant interest from the major actors in the OTC world to switch Allegra. There's a huge appetite for a switch like this."

The companies indicated that the transaction will close in the first quarter of 2010.

22nd December 2009

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