Sanofi makes it official--Brandicourt is its man

Olivier Brandicourt

Sanofi ($SNY) confirmed the rumors today, naming French national and Paris-trained Olivier Brandicourt its new CEO. Brandicourt, who the French drugmaker stole away from the top pharma spot at Bayer HealthCare, will assume the mantle on April 2.

Sanofi Chairman Serge Weinberg

"Olivier Brandicourt's strong experience combined with his international profile, deep knowledge of U.S. and emerging healthcare markets, and his capability to unite teams will provide new dynamism to Sanofi's strategy of diversification and innovation," Chairman Serge Weinberg said in a brief release that gave a description of Brandicourt's 28-year background but which included no comment from Brandicourt himself.

"This appointment surely ticks all of the boxes," Alistair Campbell, an analyst at Berenberg in London, wrote in a note today, Bloomberg reported. "The fact that Dr. Brandicourt is a French national is the icing on the cake."

Weinberg had promised a replacement by March and reports in the last week had said that Sanofi had decided on Brandicourt but that he needed to work out his exit from the German drugmaker. He had taken over as CEO of Bayer's healthcare business in September 2013. Before that, he held a number of senior-level jobs at Pfizer ($PFE), including president and general manager of emerging markets and established products. He is a medical doctor and was educated in Paris. He replaces Chris Viehbacher, who Weinberg and the rest of the board ousted in October.

Brandicourt will need to hit the ground running. Sanofi is in the midst of remaking its U.S. diabetes strategy, which ran into uncooperative payers looking for big discounts this year. It also has a much-ballyhooed PCSK9 cholesterol fighter, alirocumab, brand-named Praluent, to get approved and to market. Brandicourt also inherits a jittery R&D organization which Viehbacher had started remaking before his departure and which is losing about 100 jobs in the U.S. after Sanofi said it was rethinking it oncology efforts.

- here's the announcement 
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