The Financial Express

Govt willing to fully own Sanofi's BD operations

French drug giant declines request 'not to leave'

| Updated: November 22, 2019 17:00:24

Evaly and Fianancial Express Evaly and Fianancial Express
Reuters file photo Reuters file photo

After local businesses, the government is now willing to buy the French drug maker Sanofi, which decided to leave Bangladesh after 60 years of its operations, officials said.

The willingness was conveyed on Wednesday during a meeting between the high-ups of the government and the Paris-based global pharmaceutical giant at the ministry of industries, they said.

Citing "strategic" reason, Sanofi Bangladesh had earlier informed the government shareholders, who control 45.36 stakes in the company, about its exit.

Of the government shares, the ministry of industries owns 25.40 per cent while the state-owned Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation, or BCIC, holds 19.96 per cent.

To discuss the departure process, a five-member Sanofi team called on the government shareholders who made the offer of buying 54.64 per cent stake in the multinational company.

The visiting team members were its chief financial officer for South Asia Charles Billard, head of Asia Paul Martingell, head of strategic project-industrial platform Philippe Beaufils, Sanofi country chair Ramprasad Bhat and its managing director Muin Uddin Mazumder.

In the meeting, the industries secretary and the BCIC chairman again requested the visiting team to change its decision holding out the assurance of dealing with the problems jointly, if any, said officials who attended the meeting.

But the Sanofi team expressed its inability to continue the business in the country, citing the company's board decision, they said.

As the Sanofi representatives were in favour of market assessment of its assets, both the industry secretary and the BCIC chairman expressed the government's intention to buy stakes in the multinational company.

Confirming the development, BCIC chairman Md Haiul Quaium said they expressed their willingness to snap up Sanofi's shares and asked the company to comply with the section 31 of Memorandum and Articles of Association.

According to the article, the sellers shall give notice to the board that the shares are to be transferred and the board will discuss before setting the next course of action regarding its sales keeping the benefit of the company in mind.

"So, they will have to come to the board before going to the market for any kind of assessments," said Mr Quaium, also chairman of the company's local operations.

When asked how they would operate the company if the government managed to purchase the entire shares, he said they would not bring any change in the functions of the company.

"It will be functioning in the way it is now operating. The company earned reputation in the market through their quality products. We want to maintain that," he added.

Sanofi's managing director Muin Uddin Mazumder could not be reached, despite several efforts over phone.

Officials at the ministry and the BCIC said four to five local business groups have already shown interest to buy Sanofi's shares soon after the report on the company's exit decision was published in the Financial Express on September 14, 2019.

Sanofi has been producing key life-saving drugs like Taxotere, Eloxatine, Lantus, Apidra, Insuman, Epilim and Avil since 1958.

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