Genzyme CEO: Company In Good Hands After Sale

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Henri Termeer speaks with WBUR's Bob Oakes at Genzyme headquarters Wednesday. (Lisa Tobin/WBUR)
Henri Termeer speaks with WBUR's Bob Oakes at Genzyme headquarters Wednesday. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)

Henri Termeer is getting used to being second-guessed. He’s the CEO of Massachusetts’ largest biotechnology company, Genzyme. Lately, people have been asking him why he let a French drug giant buy his company.

Termeer and Chris Viehbacher, the CEO of Sanofi-Aventis announced the $20 billion deal two weeks ago. Over three decades, Genzyme has developed therapeutics for rare diseases, and that’s something Sanofi needs, Termeer told Morning Edition's Bob Oakes.

After the sale was announced, employees at Genzyme started to ask Termeer what’s next for them.

“When they ask about themselves, I tell them the opportunities are magnificent,” Termeer said. “The purpose of the company is to innovate, and to do new things, and to have the courage to do them. That is enabled, to some degree, by this transaction.”

Termeer said that layoffs will be minimal, though that isn’t the case for his position at the company.

“Nobody else in this company needs to feel particularly threatened,” Termeer said. “Now, for me it is different. CEOs don’t stay, generally, for very long. I will stay for as long as I can be helpful.”

Termeer said he’ll miss the company, but looks forward to the future.

“What I hope will happen is that I can find a way working with others to figure out new ways to bring about therapies to patients — new mechanisms, new ways to do the work, to define the work to be done — so we can get there fast,” he said.

Though it took months of negotiations for the sale to materialize, Termeer said he is pleased with the end result.

“We’ve created real value for shareholders, for the marketplace," Termeer said. "It’s part of innovation. It’s part of renewal. It’s part of what happens."

This program aired on March 3, 2011.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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