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Sanofi sells Yves Rocher stake as rumours of job cuts surface

French press reports suggest 1,000 to 2,000 pharma positions could be affected

Sanofi confirmed yesterday that it will sell its 19 per cent stake in cosmetics group Yves Rocher, but is remaining tight-lipped on rumours that it is also plans to introduce sweeping job cuts among its French workforce.

A report in French daily Le Figaro has suggested that Sanofi is planning 1,000 to 2,000 job cuts in France, citing unidentified sources.

Most of the staffing reductions will take place in Sanofi's research operations, the manufacturing unit at vaccines subsidiary Sanofi Pasteur and the company's headquarters in Paris, said the newspaper. 

Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that a meeting between management and Sanofi's works council is due to take place today and would include "employment perspectives" in France.

Like most of its peers among big pharma companies Sanofi has made multiple rounds of job reductions in the last few years. In March it said 450 jobs would go with the closure of a plant in Newcastle, UK, while last year its suggested thousands of R&D jobs would go in the wake of its takeover of Genzyme.

In January 2011 workers at Sanofi staged a walkout to protest the loss of 575 jobs out of 2,800 staff employed at its commercial operations, and the company could face similar industrial action if the latest rumours prove to be true. All told, Sanofi has already reduced its French headcount by 4,000 between 2000 and 2011, said Le Figaro.

Meanwhile, terms of the Yves Rocher divestment have not been disclosed, although a divestment has been expected by analysts as a means of freeing up capital and allowing Sanofi to concentrate on its core businesses.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the third quarter. Sanofi initially acquired its stake in Yves Rocher in the 1970s but reduced its ownership to 30 per cent from 64 per cent in 2002, netting €125m from the sale. It has been gradually reducing its interest in Yves Rocher since then.

5th July 2012

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