Shareholders at Sanofi-Aventis have given the green light to a board proposal to change the company’s name to just Sanofi, with immediate effect.

The vote was taken at the French drugmaker's annual general meeting in Paris and the decision is not a surprising one. Chief executive Chris Viehbacher (pictured) told PharmaTimes World News shortly after he took over as head of Sanofi-Aventis at the end of 2008 that he felt the name was too long.

In particular, he said then that just using Sanofi made sense especially in some countries, notably China, as a name with so many syllables can be difficult to pronounce. Aventis came about through the 1999 merger between Germany's Hoechst and France's Rhone-Poulenc and the entity was acquired by Sanofi-Synthelabo in 2004.

Acquisitions slowdown

Also at the AGM, Mr Viehbacher said that Sanofi, which has been highly-acquisitive since he became CEO, will now concentrate on integrating its latest purchase, Genzyme Corp, and reducing debt. However the firm is expected to keep an eye out for possible buys in the emerging markets, possibly in animal health or consumer care.

The company also unveiled its new logo (pictured), namely a planet with "the bird of hope" in the centre. The colours (blue, green, ochre and white) "represent life", Sanofi stated, ie water, earth, fire and air.