Sanofi - The top 10 largest pharma layoffs in 2013

Company: Sanofi
Based: Paris, France
Announced layoffs: About 840

When it comes to implementing job cuts, CEOs don't always get what they're reaching for. Sanofi ($SNY) CEO Chris Viehbacher knows that well; his company's layoff plans have fallen far short of the 2,500 job cuts first rumored in the summer of 2012.

As of last July, the layoff blueprint included cutting more than 800 jobs in research, production, animal health and generics. Since then, that number has fluctuated as the company went back and forth with unions and government, so the total could be more or less. Either way, that's a far cry from the total Sanofi originally sought, but enough to draw heavy criticism nonetheless.

Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher

Cuts in Sanofi's French R&D operations have accounted for much of the controversy, in turn forcing the company to scale back its plans. In 2012, Viehbacher publicly called the French R&D operation out for not producing an important new drug in 20 years. The company wanted to close a site in Toulouse, where work cost more and took longer, it said.

But those kinds of cuts are not so easy to make in France, where the layoff plans met with fierce opposition from politicians and labor. The government demanded Sanofi negotiate with union officials, who lamented the cuts in the press and organized strikes to protest them. Eventually, the company dropped plans to shutter the Toulouse facility, vowing instead to keep it open for 5 years as it worked with the government to make it self-supporting.

Now, however, the company wants to shrink the workforce there by 186 jobs, which has incited a wave of renewed backlash; Sanofi faced worker strikes as recently as October. -- Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)

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Sanofi - The top 10 largest pharma layoffs in 2013