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Leaderless Sanofi sees strong growth

French firm confirms it will seek a new CEO this quarter

Sanofi reception

Sanofi has been boosted by a healthy growth in revenue for 2014 but its chairman remains under pressure to find a new chief executive after last year's ousting of Chris Viehbacher. 

Sales across the board were up 4.9% for the year to €33.7bn with pharmaceuticals driving this growth, especially from both its diabetes unit as well and its rare disease Genzyme. 

Sales in diabetes in fact grew 12.1% (at constant exchange rates) in 2014 to reach sales of just over 7.1m euros, boosted by the world's biggest selling insulin Lantus, which jumped 12.1% to €6.3m. 

But its positive sales growth, coming in a month where other big pharma firms such as Roche and GSK have been hit by strong headwinds, could not help shore up nervy investors who remain wary of the vacuum in the firm's leadership.

Last year its long-standing CEO Viehbacher was voted out by the firm's board, allegedly over his leadership style. 

There has yet been no new leader to step in and its chairman Serge Weinberg – who was instrumental in ousting Viehbacher last October – has told reporters that the nomination committee “has been pretty active”, adding: “Now we are in the final stage and we are going to be in a position to announce the new CEO in the course of the first quarter.”

The company's next CEO will face a number of challenges, including Lantus, its big earner, which will begin to lose its patents later this year, with Lilly saying it intends to launch a biosimilar version of its insulin soon. 

Weinberg said that there are a number of candidates, with no clear front runner yet coming out, although media reports have been rife with rumours.

“Their guidance is actually decent and they're telling you that they'll announce the CEO before the end of the first quarter,” said Michael Leuchten, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London. 

“That's really going to be the driver of the stock performance.”

Article by
Ben Adams

9th February 2015

From: Sales

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