Sanofi said Tuesday that CEO Chris Viehbacher has relocated to the US from France for personal reasons. Jack Cox, a spokesman for the drugmaker, remarked "this is a personal family decision...which will have no effect on the operation of the company." The spokesman confirmed that Sanofi's headquarters would remain in France.
Viehbacher's move reflects Sanofi's increasing shift in focus from its home country of France following the acquisition of US-based Genzyme in 2011. Along with Genzyme head David Meeker, Sanofi's R&D president Elias Zerhouni and chief strategy officer David-Alexandre Gros currently reside in the US. Members of the company's 12-person executive committee who remain in France include chief financial officer Jerome Contamine and Pascale Witz, head of global divisions and strategic development.
Commenting on the news, Barclays analyst Michael Leuchten noted "being closer to [Genzyme] from an operational perspective makes sense," adding "these companies are so large, so international. Where management sits officially doesn’t really matter."
Last year, Sanofi announced plans to overhaul its Toulouse research site rather than exiting the facility as previously indicated under a scheme to cut 900 jobs in France by 2015. The drugmaker has nearly 6700 employees near Lyon and previously invested 350 million euros ($477 million) in a dengue virus manufacturing facility in Neuville-sur-Saone.
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