Sanofi brass considered pulling home base out of France

France is already feeling injured by Sanofi's ($SNY) impending job cuts there. And Sanofi's French R&D operations might well feel insulted by CEO Christopher Viehbacher, who recently pointed out that their labs haven't turned up a big new drug in years. Now, there's a rumored--and reportedly averted--injury to consider.

Sanofi executives have talked about bidding France goodbye, a weekly journal reports. Back in July, management started plotting a headquarters move to London or the U.S., Le Journal du Dimanche said. Sources close to the company's management and board said Sanofi Chairman Serge Weinberg quashed the idea, the weekly said (as reported by Reuters).

A few actual facts support the idea: The French government plans a big tax increase for high-earning employees, and that would hit Sanofi's top brass. Plus, as Reuters points out, several of those executives aren't French; Viehbacher himself is German-Canadian, while R&D chief Elias Zerhouni is Algerian-American, and Operations Chief Hanspeter Spek was born in Germany.

But Sanofi itself says there was no plan--and no discussion--about an HQ move. After all, a spokesman told Reuters, the company only recently moved into new corporate digs in Paris. That may help French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg sleep better at night; he told the Journal that he hoped the putative plan was just a rumor.

- see the Journal piece (in French)
- read the Reuters news