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Novartis' Swiss head of operations reveals job cuts

Leuenberger suggests cuts are needed to maintain competiveness

Novartis

Novartis has revealed that up to 500 positions in Switzerland will be eliminated or transferred to other areas over the next 18 months, but will counterbalance that with 350 new biotech hires.

The news comes from an interview with the head of Novartis' Swiss operations - Matthias Leuenberger - which appears (in German) on the company's Swiss website. In the piece he says the move is concentrated on the group's Basel operations and is the latest phase in an ongoing restructuring of the group's business that started in 2016.

Last year Novartis split its pharma business in two as part of a restructuring process prompted by its $16bn acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline's cancer assets, and implemented a series of projects to refine its operations. Among these was the dismantling of its cell therapy R&D unit in the US and a big expansion of an antibody production facility in France.

It also unveiled plans last year to shutter a research centre in Switzerland and relocate another R&D unit in China as part of an effort to trim drug discovery costs, and said it planned to move its tropical diseases research from Singapore to California.

The 500 jobs that will go in Basel will be drawn mainly from drug development, 'traditional' production and administrative staff and will be met with a combination of redundancies, early and voluntary retirement and transfers, while the 350 new jobs will focus on biologics development and manufacturing. At the moment Novartis employs around 13,000 people in Switzerland out of its total headcount of 123,000 workers.

No other large-scale reductions in Switzerland are planned through to the end of 2018 according to Leuenberger, although he did not rule out smaller rounds and he added "the adjustments are necessary to maintain competitiveness in the long term".

The new biotech positions "reflect the attractiveness of Switzerland as a location for innovation and employment opportunities in high-value, creation-intensive areas", he said. "We will therefore continue to invest heavily in Switzerland."

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th May 2017

From: Sales

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