Sanofi spurs layoff fears with Genzyme restructuring plans

Soon after Sanofi closed its $20 billion deal to buy Genzyme, CEO Chris Viehbacher made it clear that the storied biotech company would remain a standalone entity, reassuring loyalists by retaining its name and pushing ahead on the biotech's R&D efforts. Now the Boston Globe reports that only a scaled-down version of Genzyme will remain semi-independent as Sanofi absorbs the rest of the company into its big pharma system.

Quoting an employee bulletin, reporter Robert Weisman says that New Genzyme will include only its personalized genetic health and multiple sclerosis operations. Oncology, biosurgery, and renal operations will be taken over by other Sanofi units. Genzyme is slated to get a new CEO in the fall to replace Henri Termeer. That job is now being held on an interim basis by Viehbacher.

What isn't clear, reports the Globe, is whether the new corporate structure will trigger layoffs, a closely watched issue as Genzyme's 4,500 Boston employees (10,000 worldwide) anxiously await word of Sanofi's plans. In every significant buyout of the past several years, though, an M&A deal was the catalyst for major job cuts as the acquiring pharma companies hunted out any potential synergies to make the buyout work on the bottom line.

- here's the story from the Boston Globe