After announcing plans to restructure its R&D operations in France last year, Sanofi says it will now maintain a research presence in Toulouse for five years, but probably no longer.

Plans to cut jobs, particularly in Toulouse, caused consternation among unions and the French government which commissioned a report to look into alternatives. It has just been published and the government says Sanofi has accepted recommendations to retain the facility for at least five years and keep about 500 out of 612 jobs there, with no sackings.

Sanofi has responded by saying that the report "confirms the necessity" to reorganise the firm's research in France, "in particular to address its structural weaknesses and to open the group to external collaborations".

Sanofi confirmed its intent to regroup its research activities in France in Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg and will "transform the Montpellier R&D site into a strategic development centre for the group". It adds that the report  "provides a road map to transform the structures of the site in Toulouse, so that it keeps a scientific and technological mission, and to safeguard a maximum number of jobs in the region".

It is now looking at a variety of options, including "the creation of a technological platform to provide services for Sanofi and other biotechnological or pharmaceutical companies". The firm may also spin off activities and will explore the establishment of local start-ups on the site.

Sanofi concluded by saying it "commits during the next five years to accompany the transition of these new autonomous structures, while respecting tradition and social practices". It also confirmed that the anti-infectious research of the Toulouse site will be moved to Lyon.

However, it has made no mention of not cutting jobs and Bloomberg reported that it got hold of an internal memo from Sanofi R&D chief Elias Zerhouni saying that the company will not be in Toulouse in five years.