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Effects of Genzyme takeover still not clear

Thursday, 24th February 2011.

One of Haverhill's most prestigious companies is facing a time of uncertainty after its Amertican parent was bought out by a French multi-national.

Biotechnology giant Genzyme, whose headquarters is in Massachusetts, has two major sites in Haverhill and employs around 350 people in production and in research and development here.

Now Sanofi has agreed to buy Genzyme for just over 12.5billion, or 46 a share, an increase on its hostile takeover bid of last year.

Genzyme's overall boss, Henri Temeer, will stay on for two years to facilitate the transition, but will then resign.

He is the man who has overseen 100million investment in the Haverhill site, including the building of the iconic 'twin towers' which dominate the town skyline.

It is not clear how the deal will affect the Haverhill site yet, although it is known that jobs will be lost worldwide.

Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher has acknowledged that Genzyme won't look exactly the same after Sanofi takes over.

But in an interview with the Boston Globe last week, he tried to balance the likelihood of cost cuts with hints of future investment.

"It wouldn't be credible to say there aren't going to be some cost savings along the way," Viehbacher said. "But you want to be careful in terms of risk of disruption. It may be that we reduce in some areas, but that we invest in other areas."

Genzyme specialises in costly medications, and the Haverhill site is the main European producer of Renvela, a revolutionary drug in the treatment of chronic kidney disease.

The plant had a setback in December 2009 when an explosion ripped through one of the towers and it was many months before production returned to normal.

It has already been confirmed that the Genzyme brand name will continue, and for the moment the company says it is business as usual at the site.

Haverhill Online News

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