Novartis brings in GlaxoSmithKline's Richard Saynor to lead turnaround of Sandoz unit

Novartis announced Wednesday alongside its first-quarter financial results, that Richard Saynor, the current senior vice president of classic and established products, commercial and digital platforms at GlaxoSmithKline, will become CEO of its Sandoz unit effective no later than August 1. The appointment comes after former Sandoz head Richard Francis stepped down in March amid the division's ongoing transformation.

At the time of Francis' departure, CEO Vas Narasimhan explained "as we initiate a multi-year transformation programme for the business and move to make it more autonomous, [Francis] has decided that for personal reasons he cannot commit to stay with Sandoz until the transformation is completed." Novartis is working on transforming the Sandoz division to make it "an autonomous entity," including divesting parts of its operations in the US to Aurobindo for $900 million.

Novartis noted that Saynor currently oversees a $10 billion portfolio of established products at GlaxoSmithKline, comprised of more than 350 brands in over 120 countries. The Swiss drugmaker also said that Saynor manages the commercial digital platforms across all of GlaxoSmithKline's pharmaceutical franchises. Prior to joining the UK company, Saynor held a number of roles at Sandoz, overseeing an expansion of the generics business across Asia, Latin America and Turkey.

In the first quarter, sales at Sandoz fell 8 percent year-over-year to $2.3 billion, hit by 9 percentage points of price erosion mainly in the US. The drag on pricing at the unit has prompted Novartis to consider options for the business, although chairman Joerg Reinhardt indicated in March that the company does not intend to divest the division.

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