Sanofi has held talks with Abbott Laboratories, Mylan and private equity firms over the possible sale of a 6.3 billion euro portfolio of older drugs, according to Reuters.

The news agency reports that it has seen a 25-page document, a copy of which was circulated by France’s CGT union presented to Sanofi’s investment committee in May and called the ‘Phoenix project’. It weighs up the Paris-headquartered giant’s options for some 200 off-patent drugs such as the bloodthinner Plavix (clopidogrel) and the anti-epileptic Depakine (sodium valproate).

Sanofi is considering whether to sell the portfolio, set up a separate business or create a joint venture. The drugs bring in revenues of about 2.1 billion euros  a year and the Phoenix project aims to minimise exposure to price cuts, reduce manufacturing in Europe and free up cash, according to the document. It would concern six manufacturing and distribution sites and some 2,600 staff in Europe, mainly in France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Reuters reports that as of May, the document shows that Sanofi had begun talks with Abbott, Mylan (who did a deal earlier this week)and private equity firms TPG and Warburg Pincus as potential buyers or venture partners. It adds that Pfizer, Otsuka and Teva were not interested in the portfolio, while talks with AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline were still pending.

The CGT was quoted as saying the document “shows that management's strategy is to withdraw from Europe and particularly from France”.