* Sanofi mulls fate of 200 older drugs including Plavix
* Portfolio has sales of 2.1 bln eur, enterprise value 6.3
* Sanofi also held talks with TPG and Warburg Pincus
* Sanofi says no decision has yet been made
* Some 2,600 staff potentially concerned in Europe
(Adds Sanofi and union comment)
By Natalie Huet
PARIS, July 16 Sanofi has held talks
with Abbott Laboratories, Mylan and private
equity firms over the possible sale of a 6.3 billion euro ($8.5
billion) portfolio of mature drugs, according to an internal
document seen by Reuters.
The 25-page document, a copy of which was circulated by the
CGT union on Wednesday, details a plan presented to the
company's investment committee on May 6 dubbed the "Phoenix
It shows Sanofi is considering whether to sell, carve out or
create a joint venture for a portfolio of some 200 mature drugs
that includes blood thinner Plavix, anti-epileptic Depakine and
The portfolio currently accounts for annual sales of about
2.1 billion euros but these are projected to drop by two-fifths
in the next decade as European countries tighten healthcare
budgets and impose lower drug prices.
No decision has yet been made on the portfolio, a Sanofi
"Materials and studies on different topics are regularly
presented to the investment committee, and it doesn't always
take action or render decisions based on presented materials,"
he said in an emailed statement.
Reuters had reported in April that Sanofi was looking to
sell a multi-billion portfolio of mature products, as drugmakers
worldwide seek to shed non-core assets and focus on high-growth
The Phoenix project aims to minimise exposure to price cuts,
reduce Sanofi's 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.
The document shows that as of May, Sanofi had begun talks
with Abbott, Mylan 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 GSK were still pending.
The CGT union said in a statement it planned to bring the
document to the attention of the French government to denounce
what it called Sanofi's "capitalist Monopoly game" and to
protect local jobs.
"It shows that management's strategy is to withdraw from
Europe and particularly from France," the union said.
Drug companies are increasingly looking to shed smaller
divisions they view as non-core so they can better focus on
their mainstay products. They have also shown willingness to
consider large asset swaps with rivals to exit weaker businesses
and reinforce core areas where they are already top players.
($1 = 0.7388 Euros)
(Editing by James Regan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)