Paris (AFP)

The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi will offer a higher dividend after publishing Friday net profit up nearly 340% for 2020, boosted by the sale of shares of Regeneron, the American biotech that developed the anti-Covid treatment used by Donald Trump.

Very criticized for the delay of its anti-Covid vaccine, but also for nearly 400 job cuts in research, according to the unions, the laboratory gained 12.3 billion euros in profit in 2020 and will offer a dividend to 3.20 euros per share, which will represent a total payment of more than 4 billion euros to its shareholders.

For the previous year, Sanofi had paid a dividend of 3.15 euros per share.

"In view of these results, and in order to continue the transformation of the company in a complex and very competitive external environment, the decision was taken to propose the payment of a dividend to the shareholders", commented Sanofi in an email to AFP, Friday.

"Sanofi operating in a very competitive international environment, suspending the dividend or reducing it due to the current pandemic would weaken the company, reduce its attractiveness and thus alter its ability to innovate in the long term for patients", adds he.

The pharmaceutical giant publishes these results the day after a day of action at the call of the CGT.

Thursday, dozens of Sanofi employees, in Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) then in Paris, demonstrated against the group's strategy.

Last year, the laboratory had indeed announced 1,700 job cuts, including about a thousand in France.

According to the unions, a large part of these cuts will take place in research.

A pill that goes badly while Sanofi, one of the world leaders in vaccines, has suffered a setback in the development of its main candidate vaccine against Covid-19, now expected at the end of 2021, a delay of several months on its initial schedule.

Last year, the company posted sales of 36 billion euros, up 3.3% at constant exchange rates.

The vaccines were particularly promising, at almost 6 billion euros, but not against the Covid: in a context of a pandemic, it is the flu vaccines that saw their sales jump while those of travelers have conversely dropped by more than 40%.

In addition to this division, Sanofi continued to be supported by the growth of its flagship product Dupixent.

Developed in collaboration with Regeneron, this drug, used in particular in the treatment of asthma or atopic dermatitis, could eventually bring in more than 10 billion euros in turnover.

© 2021 AFP