Sanofi says Novartis' Paul Hudson to succeed Olivier Brandicourt as CEO

Sanofi announced Friday that CEO Olivier Brandicourt will retire from the company as of September 1 to be replaced by Paul Hudson, who has held the role of head of Novartis' pharmaceuticals division since 2016. Brandicourt assumed the position of chief executive at Sanofi in 2015, joining the drugmaker from Bayer.

Commenting on the appointment, Serge Weinberg, chairman of Sanofi's board, said Hudson's "skills and experience give him all the assets he needs to accelerate growth and lead the group's adaptation to new strategic challenges, particularly in the areas of research and development and digital." Sanofi confirmed in March that it was working on a succession plan to find a new CEO.

Prior to working at Novartis, Hudson held roles at AstraZeneca and Schering Plough. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sam Fazeli noted that during his role as head of Novartis' pharmaceutical division, the company "made one of its most successful launches" in the IL-17A inhibitor Cosentyx (secukinumab). Fazeli added "interestingly, it breaks with Sanofi’s tradition of French hiring for this role."

Meanwhile, analysts at Citi said the reaction to Hudson's appointment should be positive "given [his] operational track record at both AstraZeneca and Novartis, and in light of some of the names previously cited by the French press as candidates for the role." Sanofi's shares rose as much as 5.1 percent on the news (for further analysis, read ViewPoints: Sanofi opts for a change at the top with Swiss pharma continuing to breed industry leaders).

Separately on Friday, Novartis announced that Hudson will be replaced by Marie-France Tschudin, the current president of Advanced Accelerator Applications, as president of the company's pharmaceuticals division.

To read more Top Story articles, click here.