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Sanofi-Aventis Raises Zentiva Bid

French pharmaceutical giant agreed to raise its offer for the Czech generic drug maker 9.5 percent to $2.6 billion after Zentiva rejected a previous bid.

PARIS (AP) -- Sanofi-Aventis SA has won board approval from Czech generic drug maker Zentiva N.V. for its takeover offer after raising its bid to about €1.8 billion ($2.6 billion), the company said Monday.

The French pharmaceutical giant said it agreed to raise its offer for Zentiva by 9.5 percent to 1,150 Czech koruna per share, up from its previously rejected bid of 1,050 Czech koruna a share. Sanofi-Aventis already owns 24.9 percent of Zentiva.

Zentiva's board has recommended that its shareholders accept the new offer, and Chairman Jiri Michal has pledged to tender his 3.4 percent of shares in the company in the offer.

Other Zentiva managers with about a combined 2.3 percent stake in the company have also pledged to tender their shares, Sanofi-Aventis said.

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

Two years ago, Sanofi-Aventis bought its 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 ($729 million).

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