Minister: Jobs at Sanofi's Toulouse site mostly safe

The French minister who's been leading the charge against Sanofi's job cuts now says the company's Toulouse operations will remain largely unscathed. Most recently, the French drugmaker had said it would scale back its cuts to about 900--but that the fate of Toulouse's 640 workers remained up in the air.

Sanofi ($SNY) hasn't yet commented on Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg's announcement. But according to Montebourg himself, "Sanofi has said the Toulouse center is not part of its restructuring plans anymore, except for infectious disease research and some support functions."

Presumably, that means the Toulouse infectious disease work will still move to a "center of excellence" in Lyon. The Toulouse site also focuses on cancer, diabetes and obesity, among other things.

Meanwhile, Le Monde got ahold of a report detailing Sanofi's plans, prepared in advance of a council meeting scheduled for today. The 240-page document details Sanofi's reasons for cutting French jobs in the first place, and most of them aren't unique to the company: Patent losses, government pricing pressures, increased generics use.

One of them is different--though it's not new to those following the Sanofi reorg--and that's the company's assertion that its French R&D is too expensive, too complex, too slow.

According to Le Monde, labor groups see Sanofi's rationale as "woefully inadequate." It doesn't justify the "bitter pill" of job cuts, even at the smaller scale Sanofi now proposes, they say. The unions are set to meet with Montebourg on Friday; we'll see if anything changes after that.

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