After Turning Down Sanofi Gig, Takeda COO Gets Promoted to CEO
Published: Mar 05, 2015
March 4, 2015
By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Sr. Editor
Christophe Weber’s loyalty to Takeda Pharmaceuticals appears to have paid off, after the Japanese drugmaker said on Wednesday that it was promoting him to chief executive officer from president and chief operating officer, effective April 1. Weber made headlines late last year when he notoriously turned down the CEO job at French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi after it unceremoniously ousted its then-chief Chris Viehbacher.
Weber will be replacing Yasuchika Hasegawa, who will remain chairman of the board, said Takeda. Hasegawa said when Weber joined Takeda in 2014 that he was grooming the executive to succeed him as Takeda eyes a more global presence.
"Since he became COO of the company last April, I have been supporting Christophe and at the same time carefully observing his performance as a CEO successor. I have concluded that he is ready to assume Takeda's CEO role," Hasegawa said in a statement.
Weber confirmed in January that he had been offered the Sanofi position, but declined.
“I’m committed to Takeda,” said Weber in a statement at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “I just arrived and I’m not the kind of guy who would jump like that. It’s a unique opportunity at Takeda and I’m very committed to it.”
Sanofi’s board of directors fired Viehbacher on Oct. 29 because of “strategic differences,” including Viehbacher’s plan to sell the company’s portfolio of mature drugs worth about $7.9 billion.
Although Viehbacher was popular with shareholders because he managed to double the firm’s stock price during his tenure, management had long been at odds with him, particularly because he was the first non-French Sanofi chief executive. When he moved his family to Boston last year, spending only about a third of his time in France, the board acted to remove him.
Still, after a months-long uphill battle to name a successor, Sanofi is once again receiving intense criticism from lawmakers this week, after the details of its compensation package for new Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt were branded excessive and “incomprehensible.”
Under the terms of his new contract, Brandicourt could walk off with as much as $4.5 million in a “golden handshake” payment in addition to making $4.76 million a year. That base figure is comprised by a fixed annual salary of $1.36 million a year, which is supplemented by a performance-related bonus of between 150 to 250 percent, as well as stock options and performance shares.
Sanofi has said the one-off $4.5 million payment is intended to be a “reimbursement” for benefits lost when Brandicourt leaves his current job at Bayer AG to becomes Sanofi CEO.
That is much too sweet a deal for French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll, who told RTL radio the pay package was "incomprehensible"--especially for the country’s largest listed company.
"These people, when they have hardly taken the reins of a company--which is to say they haven't yet taken any risk--are already assured to get a disproportionate package," Le Foll said.
Former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, the current energy and environment minister, echoed Le Foll’s comments and admonished large companies, saying "some self-discipline is needed."
"Drugs are reimbursed by taxpayers, so it's all of the French people who pay into the health system and reimburse drugs who are going to pay the golden handshake," Royal said on BFM TV. "Some decency is in store, especially from a pharmaceutical company that lives off the social security system.”
As for Viehbacher he finally landed another gig with PureTech, a science and technology research and development company, which said Feb. 27 that he will join its board of directors and serve in an advisory capacity to the firm’s 12 pipeline companies.
PureTech made no mention of Viehbacher’s infamous exit from the French Fortune 500 drugmaker in October..
"It's has been a pleasure to know Chris for many years and I am very excited that we will be working together more closely now," said Robert Langer, PureTech co-founder and senior Partner. "The PureTech Board is delighted to have him join us and to have access to his insights as our pipeline advances toward commercialization." PureTech has a varied portfolio of companies focused on identifying, inventing and commercializing new products and technologies in the healthcare sector. Its roster includes Vedanta Biosciences, Gelesis, Entrega, Folica, Karuna, Tal Medical and Akili Interactive Labs.
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Last week controversy erupted over the compensation package for Sanofi’s new CEO, Olivier Brandicourt, with several French government officials decrying the amount, calling it "incomprehensible." Brandicourt could walk off with as much as $4.5 million in a “golden handshake” payment in addition to making $4.76 million a year. That base figure is comprised by a fixed annual salary of $1.36 million a year, which is supplemented by a performance-related bonus of between 150 to 250 percent, as well as stock options and performance shares.
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