Sanofi-Aventis says that its departing chief executive Gerard Le Fur has agreed to take a severance payment of 2.7 million euros, half of what he is contractually entitled to receive.

Dr Le Fur, who is to be replaced by GlaxoSmithKline’s Chris Viehbacher from December 1, is to receive the aforementioned sum as a result of "the limited time he held this office." However he will continue to be a Sanofi employee for 30 months, ie until the end of December 2010, and the firm will continue to be “the sole beneficiary of his scientific expertise” in return for a monthly salary of 50,000 euros.

Given that Dr Le Fur has agreed “not to accept any competing engagement” with any other drugmaker until the end of 2010, he will receive an additional 100,000 euros per month. He will also keep the benefit of his stock options.

As for Mr Viehbacher, he will be paid an annual fixed income of 1.2 million euros and is eligible to receive 150%-200% of that sum based on performance criteria set by Sanofi’s board. He may even get more "in case of exceptional performance".

Mr Viehbacher, who is leaving his post as president of North American pharmaceuticals at GSK, is also getting a ‘golden hello’ of 2.2 million euros. In addition, he is getting 65,000 Sanofi shares and 200,000 stock options.

Zentiva offer extended
Meantime, Sanofi says that the Czech National Bank has agreed to extend the firm’s 1,050 Czech crowns per share takeover bid for Zentiva, which values the generics company at around $2.7 billion. The offer was due to expire on September 19 and has now been extended until November 28.

Sanofi is Zentiva's largest shareholder with a 24.9% stake, and wants to acquire the remainder of the firm although the Czech group has dismissed the bid as too low. However the extension has been permitted to give Sanofi time to obtain clearance from competition authorities.