Sanofi-Aventis Said to Seek Buyer for U.S. Dermatology Business

Sanofi-Aventis SA (SAN), France’s biggest drugmaker, is seeking a buyer for its U.S. dermatology business in a sale that may fetch as much as 300 million euros ($433 million), according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

First-round bids were submitted last week, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Deutsche Bank AG is handling the sale for Sanofi, they said.

Sanofi is selling an operation that Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher said in 2009 was too small, in order to focus on treatments for diabetes, cancer and atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. The Paris-based company’s dermatology products include Sculptra Aesthetic, a wrinkle filler that’s used to fill in deep smile lines in healthy patients.

“Sanofi-Aventis U.S. is exploring strategic alternatives for the U.S. dermatology business in keeping with its strategy to reallocate resources to high-growth areas including diabetes, oncology, and atrial fibrillation,” Sanofi said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Private-equity firms are the most likely suitors for the dermatology operation, which may fetch 200 million euros to 300 million euros, the people said. The valuation of the business has been hurt because competitors introduced generic versions of one of its products, the BenzaClin topical acne treatment, one person said. A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Viehbacher said in 2009 the French drugmaker would review the dermatology business. “You have to look at our dermatology franchise as either build it or get out of it,” he said on an Oct. 30, 2009, conference call with analysts. Sanofi doesn’t disclose sales for the unit, which was formerly known as Dermik Laboratories.

Sanofi last week completed the acquisition of Genzyme Corp., the world’s largest maker of medicines for rare genetic disorders, for at least $20.1 billion.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sasha Damouni in New York at Sdamouni2@bloomberg.net; Albertina Torsoli in Paris at atorsoli@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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