Merck KGaA to tap Oschmann as new CEO, sources report

Stefan Oschmann

Merck KGaA is the latest company to join Big Pharma's recent round of executive musical chairs. The German drugmaker is promoting deputy chief executive Stefan Oschmann to replace current CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley as the company's top dog.

As Reuters reports, Oschmann will take over the role next year after Merck KGaA's annual shareholder meeting in April 2016 or in September next year, when Kley's current contract expires, company sources told German newspaper Manager Magazin. Merck KGaA last September appointed Oschmann as deputy chief executive starting in January, overseeing executive responsibilities alongside Kley.

But the company is staying mum on its official plans for Kley's replacement for now, saying it has not yet made a decision on his successor and that a family-controlled group's board of partners would oversee the search, a Merck spokeswoman told Reuters.

The move comes amid a series of C-suite shakeups, as companies such as Sanofi ($SNY), Takeda, Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Bayer HealthCare and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) shuffle their ranks and bring in new executives. In February, Sanofi after an extensive search appointed Olivier Brandicourt its new CEO, stealing the French national away from his top spot at Bayer HealthCare to lead the company beginning April 2. Bayer named boardmember and former CEO Werner Baumann to fill Brandicourt's shoes and oversee realignment of its HealthCare division. But the company is also looking for a replacement for CEO Marijn Dekkers, who is set to leave the company next year.

Earlier this month, Japan's Takeda officially appointed French national Christophe Weber its first non-Japanese CEO. Weber, who takes the reins on April 1, had spurned Sanofi's advances before the French drugmaker named Brandicourt to the top spot. As Takeda's first non-Japanese CEO, Weber will be tasked with generating new growth for the company as it faces dismal numbers after losing the patent and sales from diabetes blockbuster Actos.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is also undergoing a changing of the guard, with current COO Giovanni Caforio taking over for CEO Lamberto Andreotti starting May 5. Andreotti will stay on at the company as executive chairman until August, but then will step back into a nonexecutive chairman's role.

And Novo Nordisk is also in the market for a new CEO, with chief exec Lars Rebien Sørensen's contract expiring within the next few years. Sørensen told Danish newspaper Berlingske in December that he probably would not stay on through the end of his contract in 2019 and will most likely leave once the board names his successor. CEO Kåre Schultz's name has been tossed around as Sørensen's replacement, but the company has not yet made an official decision.

- here's the Reuters story

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