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Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO) CEO Candidate Abruptly Departs and Company Starts Hunt Afresh

4/30/2015 6:01:39 AM

Novo Nordisk CEO Candidate Abruptly Departs and Company Starts Hunt Afresh
April 30, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BAGSVAERD, Denmark – Following a strong first quarterly report that saw sales in North America increase by 11 percent, Novo Nordisk (NVO)’s top executive candidate and current company president Kåre Schultz abruptly stepped down from the firm he’s played a key role in for 26 years.

Jakob Riis, executive vice president for the company’s operations in China, Pacific & Marketing, is now rumored to be the most likely successor to Soerensen.

Still, Schultz’s abrupt departure means the hunt to find a new chief executive officer for the world’s largest diabetes drugmaker will continue. Current CEO Lars Rebien Soerensen had been planning on retiring before his contract expired in 2019 and the company had been looking at Schultz as a potential replacement. In December the company named Schultz, who had been serving as chief operating officer, president. A company spokesman said giving Schultz the title of president would allow the then 53-year-old executive an “opportunity to develop his leadership skills” during the process of finding a new CEO.

However, in its quarterly filings, the company said Soerensen will remain CEO until “he approaches the end of his contract.”

“As a result of the changes, Kåre Schultz, president and COO, has decided to leave Novo Nordisk with immediate effect,” the company said in a statement.

Soerensen said Schultz “played a key role in making Novo Nordisk a successful global company.”

Soerensen has been effective in guiding the company’s successful pipeline development. It was his decision to shut down the company’s pill research division in favor of diabetes treatments, a move that paid off well for the company as the diabetes division generated 78.3 percent of the company’s revenue in 2013.
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With Soerensen continuing his top role and the departure of Schultz, the company also announced it was expanding its group management team from six to nine. The executive group includes:

* Lars Rebien Soerensen, president, chief executive officer
* Jesper Brandgaard, EVP, chief financial officer
* Maziar Mike Doustdar, EVP, International Operations
* Jerzy Gruhn, EVP, Europe
* Jesper Høiland, EVP, US
* Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, EVP, Corporate Development
* Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, EVP, chief science officer
* Henrik Wulff, EVP, Product Supply

Although the company saw a bit of a shakeup in its executive leadership, the first quarter showed the company is still on the right track with large increases in sales of Victoza, used to treat Type 2 diabetes and Levemir, an insulin.

Last month Novo Nordisk announced the decision to submit the pre-specified interim analysis of DEVOTE, the cardiovascular outcomes trial for Tresiba, to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The submission was accepted for review by the FDA in April. Tresiba is currently sold in 27 countries, including Japan, Colombia, Libya, Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

News of the quarterly reports helped boost sales of Novo Nordisk’s stock this morning. The stock was trading at $56.53 per share, up from its close of $55.58 per share.

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