The acquisition of Genzyme by sanofi-aventis for around £12.4bn was announced last week. The deal sees the French pharmaceutical firm diversifying its portfolio with biotechnology and treatments for rare diseases from the American corporation. It will also be acquiring the potential blockbuster drug Lemtrada, for which Genzyme is currently seeking FDA approval in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Globally, sanofi-aventis employs over 100k people. It has held a UK presence for 30 years, and a fifth of the 2000 UK staff are located at the newly refurbished UK head office in Guildford. There are 3 manufacturing sites, at Fawdon (nr Newcastle), Holmes Chapel (Cheshire) and Dagenham (Essex) – the first employs over 500 people. It also has a distribution centre at Chapeltown (nr Sheffield). Sanofi-aventis formerly had an R&D site at Alnwick (~30 miles from Newcastle), but this was sold to the US contract research organisation (CRO) Covance in October 2010 as part of its R&D outsourcing strategy.
At a tenth of the size, around 600 of Genzyme’s 10,000-strong global workforce are located in the UK. Manufacturing and process chemistry is based at Haverhill (Suffolk) with 300 staff; Genzyme Therapeutics is located in Oxford; and antibody technology R&D, regulatory affairs and clinical trial coordination is centred in Cambridge.
Genzyme will be retaining its corporate brand post-acquisition.