While Sanofi is criticized for its choice to increase the dividend of its shareholders shortly after announcing the cut of a thousand jobs, the president ofSanofiFrance, OlivierBogillot, ensures that employees will also benefit from this decision.
Sanofi recorded a record profit of 12.3 billion euros in 2020, an increase of 340% compared to 2019. The group will pay 4 billion euros in dividends to its shareholders. What relaunch the controversy after the announcement of the elimination of a thousand positions in France including 400 in research and development. “This is good news for employees who will receive part of these results directly (…) They will also benefit from the dividend.“, Replied on franceinfo Olivier Bogillot, president of Sanofi France.
franceinfo: Do shareholders come before employees?
It’s good news to have good results, it’s good for the group, for the French economy. Bercy has published figures for French exports: pharmaceuticals is the only sector that is positive on exports and this is largely thanks to Sanofi. This is good news for Sanofi employees who will receive part of these results directly and then for shareholders and investors who take risks, who come to us because they have confidence in us.
Is it the right strategy to downsize and increase dividends?
We are increasing dividends to show those who invest in us that investing for the long term makes sense. When you invest, you want to have a return on your investment and everyone understands that. Even small shareholders, savers want to have a return on their investment. When you invest in a group like Sanofi, having a dividend is quite normal. Downsizing is a voluntary departure plan. We leave the choice to people. They raise their hands and they leave in very good conditions. Why are we doing this? Because we are refocusing our teams and our investments on very innovative drugs. We cannot be criticized for not being innovative and slow, and at the same time, when we are making changes to be faster, we can also be criticized for it.
What is the relationship between innovation and downsizing?
The research model is changing. You have to have people who are focused where it’s needed. So the people who were on the old research platforms today are no longer needed compared to the very innovative platforms. We need to have people who are focused on innovative platforms. Sometimes you have to be fewer and have people looking out. The research model is no longer totally internal, it is also external. We need to have researchers who are very focused, very specialized in-house, we have some, they are very good, particularly in oncology and vaccines. Sanofi will continue to invest 2 billion euros per year in its research and development in France, despite the workforce reductions.
The unions are calling for a general increase in wages. Are you going to do it?
Sanofi, in 2020, at the heart of the crisis, gave a bonus to 15,000 employees out of 25,000 of around 1,500 euros. We then increased the salaries of non-executives. For executives, we preferred to promote variable compensation. There, the results allow us to increase collective variable compensation. 90% of Sanofi employees are group shareholders, so they will also benefit from the dividend. Taking into account the wage bill, a collective increase drifts on extremely important figures and in the current context we are careful, so we preferred the variable.
How do you live these results and the criticisms addressed to you, in particular on the delays of the anti-Covid vaccine?
We were the first to be disappointed, we were supposed to arrive in June, not at the end of the year. We put the work back on the book. We are launching our phase 2 study, we will have our results in May, we can then launch our phase 3 study to be available at the end of the year. We will launch production as soon as we have the results of phase 2. At the same time, we have chosen to collaborate with BioNtech in a solidarity effort. We will make factories available in Germany. We will work to set up a new line in our factory. Once all of this is ready, more than 100 million doses can be released by the end of the year.