Daniel Vasella wants to challenge Sanofi-Synthelabo, but not the French Government. This is the position displayed yesterday by the pattern of Novartis, five number world pharmacy. At the request of the authority of financial markets, the Swiss group has confirmed that he intended well become the "White Knight" of Aventis, therefore to launch a friendly counteroffer on the French group already target of a takeover bid from Sanofi-Synthelabo EUR 48 billion.
At the same time, however, Novartis raises its conditions. First, he goes not formal on the subject negotiations if it there is "formally invited by the Aventis Supervisory Board", which a meeting is scheduled on April 2. For the moment, Daniel Vasella has had only one contact with Igor Landau, the Chairman of the Board of Aventis, to conduct a "feasibility study" on a possible merger. This study, now completed, showed that "a viable reconciliation is possible", said Novartis, which the project provides for the grant of a series of non-strategic drugs. What Sanofi-Synthelabo denounced as a "real dismantling". A priori, the Board of Aventis should not oppose the opening of such negotiations.
The second condition raises more difficulties. The direction of Novartis indicates, indeed, that it does cross the Rubicon "If the French Government adopts a neutral position", and is therefore on his "negative attitude" in the last days. March 16, shortly after Novartis has expressed his interest in Aventis, Jean-Pierre Raffarin had indeed been interpreted comments as to dissuade the Swiss group to intervene: "the construction of a large European pharmaceutical group (...)". deeply also marked by the Franco-German relations is strategic for the France, he said. I want to say today that we will be particularly vigilant to ensure that these movements do not affect the national interest. "Basel, this warning has been thinking. Even if the authorities in practice few means to block a possible takeover bid, the direction of Novartis is finally not envy to the French Government to back.
"We consider its position for a rapprochement between Sanofi-Synthelabo and Aventis posed a risk to our operation," said a relative of Novartis. It makes it harder to implement project. "Where the press release published yesterday, calling Jean-Pierre Raffarin to return to a more traditional neutrality in such a case.
But the Prime Minister is obviously not to deny, especially between the two rounds of the elections. Yesterday, Prime Minister's Office indicated that, despite the appeal of Novartis, Jean-Pierre Raffarin would any new statement on the subject. According to the Reuters news agency, the folder should be addressed today in the Council of Ministers.
How to interpret the statements made by Daniel Vasella In the camp of Aventis, it wants to see the glass half full: arguing that the approximation is "viable", Novartis advance a step in the direction of a counteroffer. In Sanofi, one wonders on the other hand if the conditions laid down by the Swiss pattern did not announce next abandonment of the project, that Novartis may put on the account of the French Government.
It is reading preferred Senator UMP Philippe Marini, that "at this stage, the French Government's position is not neutral, and I see no reason to change it". It is also the assumption that investors, bewildered, seem to still think.
Yesterday, after significant, Aventis ended the meeting fell by 0.2, while the Novartis title was 1.9, while the prospect of a costly OPA instead did stumble. In this regard, Daniel Vasella stated that rumors referring to a specific price, including a bid by 15 from the current of Aventis, had no basis. "No discussion or negotiation began on the price."