Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson sketches a $1B-plus investment on its new mRNA center
Over the years, Paris-based Sanofi has had a complex relationship with its home country of France. One former CEO (Chris Viehbacher) seemed to enjoy prodding the country’s R&D workforce for a lack of productivity — until the board chose a Frenchman (Olivier Brandicourt) to replace him. If only temporarily.
But CEO Paul Hudson, an urbane British executive with a global résumé, is making himself quite at home in the European country.
On Monday, Hudson met up with the prime minister of France to tout a major investment of more than $1 billion in France, roughly half of the €2 billion ($2.2 billion) global plan he unveiled last summer as Sanofi invested in a big future involving mRNA, the tech platform that gave birth to 2 megablockbuster vaccines in record time.
Sanofi is spending €490 million ($536 million) over 5 years to build a “fully digitized bioproduction facility designed to enable more agile and flexible manufacturing across multiple vaccine and biological platforms, including mRNA,” the company said in a statement sent to Endpoints News.
“I am proud to announce that France is at the heart of Sanofi’s mRNA strategy,” Hudson told the gathering for the formal founding of its future Evolutive Vaccines Facility (EVF) production unit in Neuville-sur-Saône.
Sanofi intends to leverage its $3.2 billion buyout of Translate Bio into 6 mRNA vaccines in 3 years. It also plans to be front and center for the next pandemic, whenever that might occur, after being left at the starting gate when its first stab at a more traditional job for Covid-19 flopped badly.
Sanofi has been fleshing out plans outlined last summer to spend €400 million ($437 million) a year on its mRNA effort, integrating the work of 400 staffers in Cambridge, UK and Marcy l’Étoile, Lyon in France around the project. They’re competing against 2 upstart rivals that have seen their stock prices soar — and swoon — over the last 24 months. As the pandemic has waned, so have their market caps. But each is still significantly larger in terms of financial firepower than they were in their pre-revenue days. And both have their own plans for staying out front.