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Sanofi's 900 job cuts "still too much": minister

PARIS (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi's scaled-back plan to cut 900 jobs in France as part of a reshuffle of its research operations is "still too much," French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said Friday.

Sanofi bowed to government pressure this week and backed off from a more extensive layoff plan that unions had predicted could reach 2,500.

The company said it could shed around 900 jobs in France in the next three years through early retirements and voluntary redundancies. It also ruled out moving or reducing the number of its industrial sites in France.

But the 900 cuts exclude Sanofi's cancer research centre in Toulouse, which the company wants to exit.

"Trade unions are right to say this is too much," Montebourg told BFM television. "The government thinks this is too much and we want guarantees for Toulouse."

Sanofi said on Tuesday that it had found potential stakeholders to maintain operations at the site in Toulouse and it would strive to find "concrete solutions" in coming months.

The company will meet staff representatives on October 3 to detail its restructuring plan.

(Reporting by Sophie Louet; Writing by Elena Berton, editing by William Hardy)