Sanofi has given details about its planned job cuts in France which are likely to affect 900 people and initially appear to be much lower than had been rumoured.

The Paris-based drugmaker has unveiled "a project for the adaptation of its activities in France through 2015". It now intends to begin "information and consultation procedures" with affected parties next month.

Specifically, the development activities in Vitry/Alfortville, Chilly-Mazarin/Longjumeau and Lyon "will continue in their current configuration", and in the first two facilities, research work will be increased. Sanofi's Montpellier site "would progressively evolve toward a strategic centre focused on development", the company says, while its Strasbourg plant would "maintain its momentum of a collaborative platform open to academic research and biotechs".

Sanofi will create a global centre of excellence in infectious diseases in Lyon. The firm added that it also intends to "improve the economic performance" of the Sanofi Pasteur vaccine unit and "streamline support functions to respond to the group's diversification and improve their efficiency. However, no details as to how that will be achieved have been disclosed.

Sanofi intends "to implement these adaptations mainly through voluntary measures" which could lead by 2015 to the reduction of 900 positions in France. These will consist of "early retirements, mobility proposals and repositioning" and the firm added that "no relocation of sites or any change to the number of industrial sites is planned in France".

Planning to sell off Toulouse site?

As for its facility in Toulouse, its function "remains to be specified". Sanofi says it has "identified during the summer potential stakeholders who could maintain the site’s scientific or technological capacity". To "further explore all options, a working group including Sanofi representatives, national and local authorities will be created as soon as possible".

There had been rumours that Sanofi was planning to lay off between 1,500-2,500 people, about 5%-7% of its workforce in France.