INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Shares of Genzyme Corp. soared Friday after a report was published that French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis is interested in the biotechnology drugmaker.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Sanofi "made an informal acquisition approach" to Genzyme, which is based in Cambridge, Mass. The report cited "people familiar with the matter" and said talks between the companies are in early stages. It said Genzyme executives are trying to figure out what price Sanofi would be willing to pay.
Representatives from both companies declined to comment on what they called market rumors.
Earlier this month, shares of several companies -- including Genzyme -- jumped in trading after rumors surfaced that Sanofi was chasing a big U.S. acquisition.
Like other major international drugmakers, Sanofi has been making deals to acquire small companies or rights to promising experimental drugs to help offset inadequate progress from internal research programs and looming revenue declines as blockbuster drugs get generic competition.
Sanofi, which is based in Paris, is the world's fourth-biggest pharmaceutical company, with 2009 revenue of about $35.5 billion. Its top seller is the Lantus insulin brand for diabetes, and it jointly markets with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. the blood thinner Plavix, the world's No. 2 drug with about $9 billion in sales last year.
Genzyme has been struggling for months with manufacturing problems that have reduced production of two key drugs for genetic diseases, Cerezyme and Fabrazyme.
It said Wednesday its profit shrank drastically in the second quarter because of falling sales and charges partly connected to those problems.
It reported net income of $23,000, or break-even per share, which compares to $187.6 million, or 68 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding one-time costs Genzyme said it earned 18 cents per share in the latest period. Revenue fell 12 percent to $1.08 billion from $1.23 billion.
Genzyme shares rose 17 percent, or $9.26, to $63.43 in heavy Friday afternoon trading, and set a 52-week high of $66.96. Meanwhile, U.S.-traded shares of Sanofi fell 4.8 percent, or $1.47 to $29.17.