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Sanofi Aventis To Offer $2.56B For Generics Maker

French pharmaceuticals maker, which has been looking to broaden its portfolio amid aging patents, cited a 'strong strategic rationale' for the Zentiva deal.

PARIS (AP) -- French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi-Aventis SA said Wednesday it's planning a takeover bid for Zentiva that values the Czech generic drugs maker at $2.56 billion.

Sanofi-Aventis, which already owns about 25 percent of Zentiva, said its cash offer of 1,050 Czech koruna ($67.54) per share eclipses the 950 koruna per share bid by Dutch group PFF N.V. announced last month.

The French company, which like many drug makers has been looking to broaden its portfolio amid aging patents, cited a ''strong strategic rationale'' for the Zentiva deal and said the two companies have overlapping markets.

Sanofi-Aventis said its bid came at a 14.6 percent premium to Zentiva's closing price on April 30 -- the last day before PPF announced its cash offer.

Shares of Sanofi-Aventis rose 1.66 percent to 42.75 euros ($66.16) shortly after noon in Paris trading. In Prague, Zentiva shares jumped 6.8 percent to 1,111 koruna ($71.46).

Sanofi-Aventis, maker of blood thinner Lovenox and anti-clotting drug Plavix, faced a setback last year when U.S. authorities rejected its weight-loss pill Acomplia because of possible suicide risks. The drug has been approved for use in Europe, and for restricted use in Britain.

Two years ago, Sanofi-Aventis bought the near-25 percent stake in Zentiva -- its first acquisition since the French company was formed out of the August 2004 takeover of Aventis by rival Sanofi-Synthelabo.

Zentiva makes and sells generic drugs in Central and Eastern Europe, including products for pain, cardiovascular diseases and disorders of the central nervous system. In March, it agreed to buy a majority stake in the generic drug business of Turkey's Eczacibasi for 460 million euros.

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