Sanofi Selects Novartis Executive to Replace Retiring CEO

Sanofi logo on building

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Sanofi has found its next chief executive officer. Novartis executive Paul Hudson will officially take over for the retiring Olivier Brandicourt on Sept. 1.

Hudson, 51, most recently served as CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. In announcing Hudson as the new CEO, Sanofi described him as a “seasoned leader with a strong international experience, particularly in the United States, Japan and Europe.” In addition to his tenure with Novartis, Hudson has also held key roles in AstraZeneca and Schering Plough. He will move to Paris to take over the reins of the company.

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Serge Weinberg, chairman of the Sanofi Board of Directors said the company is pleased Hudson will be taking over as CEO. Weinberg pointed to his skills and experience as a leader in the industry and said he has the assets needed to “accelerate growth and lead the group's adaptation to new strategic challenges, particularly in the areas of research and development and digital.”

“Throughout his various management positions, he has proven his strategic vision, his strong leadership and his ability to achieve the greatest challenges, particularly in terms of innovation and digital transformation. Mr. Hudson has a very robust track record in successful major product launches,” Sanofi said in its announcement. “His human values will enable him to mobilize all the energies and increase the agility that a group such as Sanofi needs, to face the new challenges of our industry and the changes in healthcare systems around the world.”

Brandicourt announced his intentions to step down in March as he approached his 65th birthday. The French company has an age limit restriction for its CEO. Brandicourt has helmed Sanofi since 2015. During his tenure, he oversaw a reshaping of the company that included a deal to swap Sanofi’s animal health business with Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim for that company’s consumer healthcare operations. He also oversaw the sale of its generics division, Zentiva, to Advent International for $2.4 billion last year. It wasn’t just divestitures, During Brandicourt’s tenure, Sanofi acquired the Biogen hemophilia-focused spinout, Bioverativ, for about $11.6 billion. The company also snapped up Nanobodies-focused Ablynx for $4.8 billion. The Ablynx deal quickly paid off as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved caplacizumab for treating the blood disease acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura about a month after the deal was announced. Brandicourt also played a significant role in the company’s developmental partnership with Regeneron that has led to multiple regulatory wins for Dupixent.

Regarding the exiting Brandicourt, the company thanked him for his years of service helming the company. The Sanofi Board of Directors said he steered the company through a “complex period” and that he made a “decisive contribution” to the company’s return to growth.

“Thanks to the actions undertaken during his term of office, Sanofi is able to accelerate its growth, and has powerful assets to regain the position it needs to occupy,” the board said of Brandicourt.

Following Sanofi’s announcement, Novartis said Marie-France Tschudin, currently president of its subsidiary Advanced Accelerator Applications, will take over as president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. In a brief statement announcing Tschudin’s appointment, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan thanked Hudson for his service and positioning the company’s pharmaceutical business for growth.

“He also established a new culture of commercial excellence, integrity and nurtured a strong, diverse talent pool,” Narasimhan said in the statement.

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