Sanofi re­cruits No­var­tis' top phar­ma ex­ec Paul Hud­son as its new CEO — so what hap­pens now?

Sanofi’s board has turned to some­one who’s not French to be its next CEO.

The Paris-based phar­ma gi­ant named No­var­tis phar­ma chief Paul Hud­son — a British phar­ma ex­ec­u­tive with an in­ter­na­tion­al pedi­gree — to the top post as cur­rent CEO Olivi­er Brandi­court heads off to an ear­ly “re­tire­ment.”

Marie-France Tschudin AAA

In a care­ful­ly or­ches­trat­ed re­sponse, No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan con­grat­u­lat­ed Hud­son and named Marie-France Tschudin, a Swiss cit­i­zen who’s head­ing up the re­cent­ly ac­quired can­cer group Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions, as Hud­son’s re­place­ment. In do­ing so, he im­me­di­ate­ly po­si­tioned Tschudin — who speaks 6 lan­guages — as a top can­di­date for any fu­ture Big Phar­ma CEO open­ing.

Hud­son joined No­var­tis and the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee just three years ago, af­ter serv­ing as the US phar­ma chief for As­traZeneca. He has a de­gree in eco­nom­ics from Man­ches­ter Met­ro­pol­i­tan Uni­ver­si­ty in the UK.

Hud­son will take the top slot on Sep­tem­ber 1, where he’ll be greet­ed by an ex­tra­or­di­nary chal­lenge. The com­pa­ny has an R&D group with a rep for slow mo­tion move­ment and a mar­ket­ing team that’s faced with some tough chal­lenges on the di­a­betes front, among oth­ers.

In­vestors re­spond­ed warm­ly to the ac­tion, bid­ding Sanofi’s shares up 5.5%  on Fri­day.

Brandi­court came on board just 4 years ago, fol­low­ing in the wake of Chris Viehbach­er, who was axed by the Gal­lic board and pow­er­ful chair­man — Serge Wein­berg — in charge of Sanofi af­ter mov­ing back home to the US. The French clear­ly want­ed a na­tive to run the com­pa­ny at the time, but ap­par­ent­ly feel that pro­fes­sion­al­ism trumps na­tion­al­i­ty as it works to­ward a turn­around.

One of Reuters sources, who tipped the wire ser­vices off ear­ly on the an­nounce­ment, said that Hud­son was picked be­cause of his sol­id man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­pe­ri­ence with dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, where No­var­tis has been care­ful­ly fo­cused.

So now the guess­ing games be­gin. What will Hud­son do to shake things up at Sanofi, where its R&D or­ga­ni­za­tion has pro­duced lit­tle of re­al val­ue, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of their late-stage can­cer drug isat­ux­imab?

Sanofi ex­e­cut­ed ma­jor al­liances with Re­gen­eron and Al­ny­lam on ground­break­ing drugs, but on its own the com­pa­ny is known as large­ly mori­bund and bu­reau­crat­ic, tak­ing a long stretch to fi­nal­ly ex­e­cute on the M&A front un­der Brandi­court. And now they’ve backed away from those al­liances to lean more heav­i­ly on the pipeline and R&D chief John Reed.

If Hud­son’s back­ground at No­var­tis is an in­di­ca­tor, he may turn to deal­mak­ing to help en­liv­en the late-stage pipeline, where all big phar­mas are judged. An in­ter­nal shake­up in key ar­eas like on­col­o­gy may al­so be in the off­ing, as new ex­ecs like Di­et­mar Berg­er join up. And just about every new CEO — Dave Ricks and Em­ma Walm­s­ley, for ex­am­ple — like to bring out the axe to chop away at the dead wood be­fore adding any­thing.

Reed has al­ready re­vamped the pipeline. But look for an even greater re­liance on the US re­search ops around Boston to car­ry the bulk of the weight.

Any­one look­ing for the next sig­nal on Hud­son’s sta­tus should look to his com­pen­sa­tion pack­age. Brandi­court took home a 2018 com­pen­sa­tion pack­age of $8.1 mil­lion — down $2.7 mil­lion, a painful 33% drop — com­pared to his al­lot­ment for 2017. Eu­ro­pean ex­ecs tend to be paid sig­nif­i­cant­ly less than their US coun­ter­parts, but a cut in com­pen­sa­tion like that un­der­scored the board’s feel­ings about Brandi­court’s lack of ef­fec­tive­ness as a man­ag­er.

How much did Hud­son get in his ne­go­ti­a­tions?

Im­age: Paul Hud­son (No­var­tis)

 

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

David Meline (file photo)

Mod­er­na’s new CFO took a cut in salary to jump to the mR­NA rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But then there’s the rest of the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age

David Meline took a little off the top of his salary when he jumped from the CFO post at giant Amgen to become the numbers czar at the upstart vaccines revolutionary Moderna. But the SEC filing that goes with a major hire also illustrates how it puts him in line for a fortune — provided the biotech player makes good as a promising game changer.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the base salary: $600,000. Or the up-to 50% annual cash bonus — an industry standard — that comes with it. True, the 62-year-old earned $999,000 at Amgen in 2019, but it’s the stock options that really count in the current market bliss for all things biopharma. And there Meline did well.

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Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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David Meline, incoming Moderna CFO

Am­gen vet David Meline finds a new CFO roost at Mod­er­na, tak­ing a ride on the Covid-19 tiger as de­part­ing ex­ec cash­es out with $12M

We found out a few weeks ago that Moderna CFO Lorence Kim isn’t waiting around to see how the biotech wunderkind makes out in its frantic race to field a messenger RNA vaccine that can quell Covid-19. And now we know who’s stepping on board to take his place in the latest move in the executive suite.

David Meline, who forged his rep during a 6-year run at Amgen, slipped out the exit right after his Q2 “retirement” party in California — presumably virtual — and started the next chapter of his career at a biotech company betting big on revolutionizing the vaccine R&D space.

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