Still No Conclusion to Genzyme-Bioenvision Saga

10/5/07

A special meeting of Bioenvision shareholders, continued from yesterday, was adjourned once again this afternoon with no final word on whether or not the shareholders had approved Genzyme’s bid to acquire the New York-based biotech.

The meeting was originally convened yesterday so that Bioenvision (NASDAQ: BIVN) shareholders could vote on Cambridge-based Genzyme’s (NASDAQ: GENZ) much-debated $5.60-per-share offer for the firm. When yesterday’s meeting was adjourned, about 47 percent of the shares had been voted in support of the merger (a simple majority is needed to approve the deal, and shares that aren’t voted are counted as nos) and Bioenvision CEO Christopher Wood announced that voting would be held open until today.

Attendees at today’s meeting were told that while the voting is now closed, the inspector of elections needs additional time to count the votes. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” said Steven Rouhandeh, chairman of SCO Financial Group, which has been a vocal opponent of the merger. Rouhandeh points out that this is essentially the fourth time shareholders have voted on the deal, referring to Genzyme’s original tender offer (which failed to garner a majority of Bioenvision shares), an extension of the offer (ditto), yesterday’s voting deadline (ditto), and today’s finally completed vote. “Our view is that this process has gone on long enough, and it should come to some kind of closure,” Rouhandeh says.

Perhaps that closure will come next Wednesday at 11 am, when the shareholder meeting reconvenes. A Bioenvision spokesperson says that a final tally could come even sooner, but that if not, the verdict would be announced at Wednesday’s meeting.

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