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Sanofi-Aventis To Pay $4 Billion For Merial

$4B price tag for Merial paid by Sanofi-Aventis.

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Merck & Co. has agreed to sell its 50 percent interest in Merial to Sanofi-Aventis SA, which owns the other half of the animal health company, for $4 billion in cash.

The sale is subject to clearance by European antitrust authorities.

The companies made the announcement in a joint statement dated July 30.

Merck anticipates completing the transaction before Merck's planned $41.1 billion merger with Schering-Plough Corp. The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

In addition, Merck, Sanofi-Aventis and Schering-Plough have signed a call option agreement. This means that after the close of the Merck/Schering-Plough merger, Sanofi-Aventis will have the option to combine the Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health business with Merial to form an animal health joint venture that would be owned equally by itself and the new Merck.

Any formation of a new animal health joint venture with Sanofi-Aventis is subject to antitrust reviews in the U.S. and Europe.

Sanofi-Aventis is based in Paris, Merck is in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Schering-Plough is in Kenilworth, N.J.

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