Vasella leaves after 17 years at Swiss pharma company
Novartis' Dr Daniel Vasella (pictured right) is to step down as chairman later this year to be replaced by Dr Jörg Reinhardt (pictured left), who previously spent 29 years at the Swiss pharma company before becoming chair of the board of management at Bayer Healthcare in 2010.
Dr Vasella, who will not stand for re-election at Novartis' annual general meeting on February 22, leaves Novartis after 17 years, including a 14-year spell as CEO from 1996 when the company was first formed through the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz.
During this time, Dr Vasella led the establishment of Novartis as one of the biggest pharma companies in the world in its own right, initiating key developments, such as unifying the company's generic business under the Sandoz unit and the purchase of eyecare unit Alcon.
Novartis also launched key products, such as cancer treatment Gllevec/Glivec (imatinib) and blood pressure medicine Tekturna (aliskiren), during Dr Vasella's time in charge.
Commenting on his departure, Dr Vasella said: “Novartis is solidly on course to navigate the volatility and uncertainties of today's economic environment. I am confident in the leadership of Joe Jimenez and his top team, the company's strategy with its commitment to innovation, and the course charted to strengthen Novartis as one of world's leading healthcare companies.”
His proposed replacement Dr Reinhardt is due to stand for election as director and non executive chairman of the board of Novartis at the company's AGM in Feberuary, and will assume office on August 1, 2013, if elected.
Bayer has already said he will leave his current position on February 28, with board member Professor Wolfgang Plischke to take over until a successor is appointed.
Dr Reinhardt, who has been chair of Bayer Healthcare since August, 2010, already has a rich history at Novartis, serving initially at Sandoz and then Novartis itself from 1981 to 2010.
This time included spells as chief operating officer, global head of pharma development, CEO of the vaccines & diagnostics division and chairman of the board of directors of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation.
Commenting on his intended successor, Dr Vasellas said Dr Reinhardt was “a very experienced healthcare executive with deep knowledge of the company”.
Other changes at Novartis include proposals for Dr Verena Briner, Dr Charles Sawyers and William Winters to become members of the board of directors, while Marjorie Yang is due to step down.