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Changing the guard at Novartis' Sandoz and Alcon units

Richard Francis joins from Biogen Idec and Kevin Buehler retires
kevin buehler alcon

Novartis has announced changes at the top of two of its key divisions, with new leadership for generics unit Sandoz and eyecare business Alcon.

Biogen Idec executive Richard Francis is appointed division head at Sandoz, replacing Jeff George who has moved sideways to become head of Alcon from May 1. Alcon's current division head Kevin Buehler is retiring from his position after a 30-year career at the unit.

The reshuffle comes as Novartis is in the midst of a review of its operations that is due to complete by the end of the year and - it has been suggested - could see the Swiss pharma major hive off some underperforming business units as part of a bid to reduce costs and boost profitability.

While Novartis' branded pharmaceuticals division is far away its biggest earlier with turnover of more than $32bn last year, Alcon is its second-biggest with sales of $10.5bn last year and Sandoz comes in a close third at $9.2bn. Both the generics and eyecare units grew 3- 5 per cent last year while pharma sales were flat compared to 2012.

There is no suggestion that either Alcon or Sandoz will leave the Novartis fold, with the company's vaccines, animal health and over-the-counter drugs thought to be most likely to be affected by the review. Novartis has already sold off diagnostics assets, while other big pharma players - notably GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer - have also gone down this path.

"These new leaders will set the direction for the next phase of growth for our eye care and generics businesses, two of our core growth engines," commented Novartis' chief executive Joseph Jimenez, who has adopted a less expansionist approach to the business since taking over from former CEO Daniel Vasella four years ago.

"Both Jeff and Richard have the vision and expertise to strengthen our market leading positions," he added.

Article by
Phil Taylor

10th April 2014

From: Sales

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