M&A, People

Novo Nordisk’s pick for new chairman signals its ongoing pursuit of M&A deals

Despite what its failed bid for Ablynx may suggest, Novo Nordisk is dead serious about M&A — and it is bringing on a new chairman who helps showcase that point.

The Danish company is set to appoint veteran oil and gas exec and M&A guru Helge Lund to the role today, Reuters reports, at a time the diabetes giant is seeking to boost its blood products business during a downturn for the diabetes business. Lund replaces Goran Ando, who decided not to seek re-election after five years in the job.

Lund had a brief encounter with pharma as vice president of Nycomed early in his career, just before joining Aker, where he began a streak of mergers and acquisitions. He oversaw Aker Maritime’s merger with Kvaerner; orchestrated Statoil’s $30 billion acquisition as its CEO; and, after a mere two months at the helm of the UK’s BG Group, saw it taken over by Royal Dutch Shell. That latest buyout set him free to pursue a job at a private equity investment firm.

That level of experience and savviness will serve Novo well, seeing as it lost Ablynx — and its rare blood disorder drug — to Sanofi after a high profile takeover attempt. The Belgian biotech was just too expensive, Novo said, but nothing has changed regarding its commitment to finding new assets in the hemophilia and hematology space.

“We believe those assets are available but whether it is going to be in the form of in-licensing of Phase II or Phase III clinical stage assets or whether it is going to be outright M&A, that depends,” CFO Jesper Brandgaard told Reuters late January.

After today, we might have a better idea.


Image: Helge Lund. NOVO NORDISK


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