Sanofi is now packing its bags to leave Bangladesh for strategic reasons, said the managing director of its local operations, bringing an end to weeks of speculation and denial.
“It may take 12 to 18 months from the moment Sanofi starts the process of selling its stakes to a buyer,” Md Muin Uddin Mazumder, managing director of Sanofi’s Bangladesh operations, told a group of journalists yesterday.
But, the French drug-maker is yet to find any takers for its stakes in the venture, where state-run Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) holds 45.36 percent stakes.
“No local or international company has gotten in touch yet,” Mazumder said, adding that no valuation has been done of Sanofi’s 54.64 percent stakes.
Rumours of Sanofi’s planned exit surfaced last month after Mazumder, Ramaprasad Bhat, country chairman and general manager of Sanofi Bangladesh, and Charles Billard, chief financial officer of Sanofi India and South Asia, met with BCIC Chairman Md Haiul Quaium, who is also the board chairman of Sanofi Bangladesh.
At the meeting, the trio conveyed the French pharma giant’s intent to sell its stakes for strategic reasons.
The rumours left Sanofi Bangladesh’s 1,000-strong workforce agitated.
But Sanofi continued to deny the rumours vehemently and earlier this month even sent out a letter to medical professionals reassuring them that the French pharma giant was not leaving Bangladesh anytime soon. Mazumder’s disclosure puts to bed all rumours.
“However, Sanofi will be sold out with the employment guarantee clause so that some 1,100 employees need not lose their jobs,” he said, adding that Sanofi’s products will also be in the market with the same quality as of now.
Sanofi’s share in the country’s pharma market is below 2 percent and its ranking is 17th among the local medicine manufacturers.
“The intent to leave Bangladesh is a global decision and has nothing to do with the local atmosphere. We have little choice here although Sanofi has been making profit since its establishment at Tongi in 1958,” Mazumder said.
Last year, Sanofi Bangladesh logged in profits of Tk 42.12 crore, up 13.62 percent year-on-year, company documents show.
Its turnover increased 5 percent to 7 percent year–on–year over the last few years, according to Mazumder.
Sanofi’s exit though is a massive blow to the government at a time when it is earnestly looking to attract foreign direct investment.