UPDATE 1-Sanofi pins hopes on 2018 for growth after recent takeover deals

* 2017 net income slightly below consensus

* Sees EPS growth between 2-5 pct in 2018

* Group expected to benefit from U.S tax reform

* Q4 hurt by Dengvaxia provision (Adds details, background)

PARIS, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Sanofi expects 2018 to mark a return to growth on the back of two recently announced acquisitions and a revamped pipeline, after it posted fourth-quarter profits slightly below expectations, hurt by a charge for its dengue vaccine.

France's largest drugmaker forecast on Wednesday earnings per share (EPS) growing between 2-5 percent at constant exchange rates this year, after a 0.4 percent drop in 2017.

The group should also benefit from U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to cut the U.S. corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, and Sanofi predicted its tax rate to stand around 22 percent in 2018 as a result of the reform.

Sanofi scored two big takeover deals last month, agreeing to buy U.S hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion and Belgium's Ablynx, which is developing a prized experimental drug for a rare blood disorder, for 3.9 billion euros ($4.83 billion).

The two transactions highlight a successful return to deal-making for the company after failures to land major takeovers since 2011, when it had bought U.S biotech company Genzyme for around $20 billion, although some investors questioned the costs.

The deals will complement Sanofi's offering in the segment of rare diseases as its diabetes sales continue to suffer from generics competition, especially in the United States, the world's largest health market.

In the fourth quarter, sales at the group's diabetes and cardiovascular unit were down nearly 20 percent.

The company said it had recorded an impairment of tangible assets of 87 million euros related to Dengvaxia, its dengue vaccine currently at the center of a health scare in the Philippines, in the fourth quarter.

Sanofi revealed in November that Dengvaxia - the world's first dengue vaccine - might increase the risk of severe disease in people who had never been exposed to the virus.

A Philippine government agency on Monday filed a lawsuit against Sanofi, asking compensation for the parents of a 10-year-old girl the agency said had died as a result of receiving Dengvaxia.

"The Dengvaxia question of course is very worrisome to us. But we have not seen any reaction similar to the one in the Philippines in other countries," Sanofi Chief Executive Olivier Brandicourt told journalists.

"We are worried with this insistence of trying to link some deaths of children with the vaccine, something we have absolutely no evidence of," he said.

Dengvaxia has been approved in almost 20 countries. It is currently under review by European health regulators.

Fourth-quarter business net income fell 10.8 percent at constant exchange rates to 1.33 billion euros. Total sales rose 4.1 percent to 8.7 billion euros.

Analysts polled by Reuters in partnership with Inquiry Financial had on average been expecting business net profit of 1.46 billion euros and net sales of 8.7 billion. ($1 = 0.8069 euros) (Reporting by Matthias Blamont Editing by Sudip Kar-Kupta)