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S-A to outline reorganisation

French firm sanofi-aventis will announce plans to restructure its R&D business within weeks

Sanofi-aventis will reveal, in a matter of weeks, restructuring plans to rationalise decision-making and boost efficiency in R&D, the company's chief executive has said.

In an interview with Reuters, Chris Viehbacher said he would address how the company could provide 'more latitude for creativity' among the workforce, developing them scientifically and encouraging collaboration.

As part of the restructure, Viehbacher said he would extend existing collaborative deals with universities and government-funded institutions.

The company is due to meet unions next week to discuss the implications of the planned reorganisation on staff. Viehbacher has declined to comment on potential job losses other than the 927 job cuts announced in October 2008.

With €4bn in the coffers, Viehbacher reiterated the firm's plans to use its free cash to further expand the business through acquisition. He said the company was committed to diversifying through the purchase of small or mid-sized companies in areas including vaccines, over-the-counter medicines and generics. In particular he voiced an interest in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Viehbacher said that sanofi-aventis would use the foothold Zentiva has in Eastern Europe as a base for generics expansion in the region. Sanofi-aventis acquired the Czech firm earlier this year to gain presence in the generics markets of central and Eastern Europe.

He said the French company was now look to establish a similar generics platform in Latin America, where sanofi-aventis acquired Medley in Brazil and Laboratorios Kendrick in Mexico. The company is also looking to move into Asia.

"If we can find other acquisition opportunities like Zentiva elsewhere, we will do that," Viehbacher told Reuters.

25th June 2009

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