updated 1/29/2007 9:48:28 AM ET 2007-01-29T14:48:28

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. shares rose in European and American trading after a media report said the U.S. company could be bought by French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis SA.

A pre-merger memorandum was signed last week and the deal could be finalized by September, weekly La Lettre de l’Expansion reported, though it did not cite sources. The two companies jointly market Plavix, a blood thinner, that is the world’s second best selling drug.

Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers declined to comment.

Bristol-Myers Squibb reported a loss of $134 million for the fourth quarter last week as sales of best-selling drug Plavix sank because of generic competition, and it took a hefty charge to settle government probes.

Dresdner Kleinwort said it sees limited strategic rationale in a such a merger, suggesting that a merger would be seen as an admission that neither company has the strength to grow organically.

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