Sanofi CEO eyes small deals, smaller costs

Sanofi-Aventis chief Chris Viehbacher (photo) is putting his stamp on the company with new expansion plans--and probably new layoffs. The newly minted CEO needs to slice $1.3 billion in costs from his P&L, analysts say, a figure that can't be reached without another round of job cuts. As you know, Sanofi already laid off hundreds of drug reps in December.

Viehbacher is eyeing his top line, too, hoping to boost sales in advance of patent expirations that will put one-fifth of Sanofi's revenues at risk, the Financial Times reports. In an interview with the paper, Viehbacher said he wants to broaden Sanofi's focus beyond the U.S. and the E.U. Sanofi should be a global company, he believes, and to get there, he's eyeing "strategic" acquisitions as well as internal restructuring. Part of the new focus will be on generics in emerging markets, plus OTC meds and vaccines.

Mega-merger? Probably not in the cards, Viehbacher says. "On the surface you would have to say the big deals of the past have not necessarily fulfilled the criteria of shareholder value," he told the FT. "I don't want Sanofi-Aventis to be bigger in people and sites. Size is an issue...that led to lower productivity."

One curious turn: Viehbacher told the Wall Street Journal that he wants more of Sanofi's pipeline to come from outside the company, via licensing or buyout deals. Right now, 90 percent of its drug candidates are coming via internal R&D. Plus, he wants to shrink R&D expenses as a percentage of sales. Sounds like Sanofi's drug developers are in for it.

- see the FT story
- get more on the cost cuts from BNet Pharma
- read the Wall Street Journal article