UPDATE: On Thursday evening, Sanofi announced that Olivier Brandicourt (pictured above), head of Bayer AG's healthcare arm, has officially been named as the company's next CEO.
"Sanofi undertook a rigorous selection process to identify the right person to lead Sanofi forward at an important time for our company," said Sanofi Chairman and acting CEO Serge Weinberg in a statement. "Olivier Brandicourt’s strong experience combined with his international profile, deep knowledge of U.S. and emerging healthcare markets, and his capability to unite teams will provide new dynamism to Sanofi’s strategy of diversification and innovation."
There's plenty of questions about just how big a role Brandicourt will play in the day-to-day management at Sanofi. As company EVP Pascale Witz told BioPharma Dive in an exclusive interview last month, Sanofi already has a lot of its work (including a series of critical drug launches) cut out for it in the coming years, and the C-suite has been taking a collaborative approach to management. Plus, Chris Viehbacher's firing last fall was based in large part on a strained relationship with the company's board, meaning that Brandicourt may have to court his way into its graces before he can make any potential big plays.
As Sanford C. Bernstein & Company analyst Timothy Anderson wrote to clients on Thursday, according to the New York Times, Brandicourt's appointment is "likely to be viewed as a moderately positive catalyst for Sanofi as it resolves the uncertainty around not having a permanent C.E.O." but that investors "will naturally wonder how much power Brandicourt will have given his predecessor’s tussle with the board of directors."
- French pharma giant Sanofi recently announced that it would name a replacement for ousted CEO Chris Viehbacher by the end of Q1 2015. Right on time, there's speculation that Olivier Brandicourt, CEO of Bayer's healthcare division, is leading Sanofi's short-list and in talks for the position (Update: Brandicourt was officially named as Sanofi's next CEO on Thursday, Feb. 19).
- Serge Weinberg has been the interim Sanofi CEO during the search period.
- Sanofi is looking forward with the goal of shrinking its oncology business and narrowing the focus of its Genzyme unit while launching several major new products in the cholesterol and diabetes spaces this year.
Brandicourt, a Paris-trained physician, has only been CEO of Bayer's healthcare business since 2013. But he came to Bayer with years of experience at Pfizer.
In addition, Brandicourt spent the early part of his career as a malaria researcher in Paris and also spent two years working as a physician in the Republic of Congo. This is a very critical time for Sanofi as it attempts to retool after a period of challenging setbacks, including expected flat diabetes sales, the recent announcement of about 100 job cuts, and a well-publicized scandal involving millions in potential kickbacks.