Company: Sanofi
Based: Paris
Themes: R&D, manufacturing, administration

When Sanofi ($SNY) vowed to strip out close to $3 billion in costs last fall, the pharma giant clearly signaled job cuts ahead. But signaling cuts and actually making them--at least in France--are two different things entirely.

By last summer rumors began to make headlines in French newspapers. Sanofi management was said to be laying the groundwork for deep research and manufacturing cuts, with additional pink slips planned on the administrative side of the business. Up to 2,500 jobs were on the line. And CEO Chris Viehbacher poured salt on the Gallic wound by noting that the French R&D operation hadn't produced an important new drug in 20 years.

But the new French government and union leaders appear to have averted most of the cuts. Last word was that Sanofi would reduce its workforce by about 900, and then largely through attrition. And French officials say that the sword of Damocles hanging over Sanofi's facility in Toulouse would be removed.

Like its Big Pharma rivals, though, what Sanofi is trying to remove in Europe is being replaced by new jobs in China. Last spring the company opened its new R&D hub in Shanghai. And it's been bullish about its expanding presence in Boston, where Genzyme now represents the company's hopes in biologics R&D, capped by MS programs for Aubagio and Lemtrada.

Back in February, Sanofi said it would keep its head count in Massachusetts at about 5,000, with ongoing cuts at Genzyme as that company was resized as a corporate division. Workers were brought in from New Jersey, and staffing on the MS side of the business was beefed up.

Canadian operations haven't escaped the cutbacks. Near the beginning of the year Sanofi said it would lay off 100 in Canada, most in the Montreal research hub.

For more:
Special Report: Sanofi - Top 10 pharma layoffs of 2011
Sanofi argues its R&D costs are too high, but backs down on Toulouse
Sanofi to shed 900 workers with fate of R&D complex undecided
French minister backs Sanofi on job-cutting plans
2,500 Sanofi jobs may be marched off patent cliff


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