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S-A sets out growth strategy

Sanofi-aventis' new chief Chris Viehbacher delivered his plans for growth and diversification as the company posted a 3.1 per cent increase in sales to €24.7m

Sanofi-aventis' new chief Chris Viehbacher delivered his plans for growth and diversification as the company posted a 3.1 per cent increase in sales to €24.7m.

Viehbacher is bringing a fresh approach to find ways to reduce the reliance on income from blockbusters, after just 10 weeks in the job. He stated that sanofi-aventis must use numerous routes to provide sustained growth, building on its position as the world leader in vaccines, its establishment in emerging markets and re-evaluation of research and development priorities.

Key to this thinking is the appointment of existing chief financial officer, Laurence Debroux to the new position of chief strategy officer, to investigate the options for business development and acquisitions, as well as corporate planning, financial and economic project evaluation, and strategic intelligence.   

Sanofi-aventis strengthened its global position in 2008 through the acquisition of Symbion and Acambis, and has received conditional EU approval to buy Czech company, Zentiva, which would bring significant opportunities in the fast-growing Eastern European markets. Recent rumours of a possible takeover of Indian drugmaker, Piramal, however, remain unconfirmed at the meeting.

In explaining the need to shift further towards meeting global health needs, Viehbacher said: "We don't want to do 80 per cent of sales with 20 per cent of the people." He see great prospects in Asia, for example, stating: "Forty-seven million people suffer from diabetes in China; think what that represents for our company."

Key to meeting global public health needs is the appointment of Dr Elias Zerhouni as scientific advisor. He has extensive experience from an international career in both academia and as the director of the National Institute of Health in the US, which will be used to provide guidance on multicultural developments in public health worldwide, particularly in the creation of partnerships.  

R&D plans
The number of active pipeline projects had been reduced to 65, with further close scrutiny planned. Viehbacher said there would be thorough reviews of all products “to see if they will bring medicine of value to patients” and that any money saved would be reinvested. Marc Clouzel, head of R&D, said that the firm had to look at what form its R&D would take in 2015, adding that it would need a model based on balancing internal and external innovation, and move towards greater integration.

Viehbacher is confident that the proposed changes enable sanofi-aventis to outperform predictions for 2012 and that the planned diversification would not come at the cost of profitability.

12th February 2009


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