Anyone concerned about a lack of biotech experience coming over with new Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson and his exec picks won’t have to worry when it comes to his latest addition.
Tuesday, the Connecticut biotech announced that it had snagged Paul Clancy, Biogen’s longtime CFO, to fill its own empty CFO post. And while some may be wondering why Clancy would choose Alexion, given his “experience, reputation and stature in the industry,” Leerink Partners analyst Geoffrey Porges wrote to clients—the move “can only be regarded positively by Alexion’s investors,” he noted.
Porges hasn’t said the same about some of Alexion’s other recent roster additions. When Hantson, the former leader of Baxter spinoff Baxalta, first snagged the top job back in March, Porges questioned his “experiences and background,” which “are very much from legacy product big pharma.”
And those worries were only compounded when Hantson went on to tap fellow Baxalta vets Brian Goff, John Orloff and Anne-Marie Law for the C-suite, as chief commercial officer, R&D chief and chief human resources officer, respectively.
“In our view the reunion of the Baxalta management team is likely to get a mixed reception in New Haven and still leave the company divided and in turmoil,” he wrote, adding that “Investors might be relieved to have experienced executives appointed at Alexion, but would be disappointed if the company’s financial profile looked like Baxalta’s several years from now.”
Clancy, though? “He has a reputation as a careful steward of capital, a doughty protector of margins and an accessible and reasonable face to investors,” Porges said Tuesday.
Alexion could use a careful steward of capital right about now. In December, amid a sales fraud investigation surrounding lead med Soliris, the company brought in former Honeywell CFO David Anderson to succeed Vikas Sinha, left to pursue other opportunities. But late last month, the company announced that the short-tenured Anderson was leaving, too.
Recently launched are-disease med Kanuma, acquired in Alexion’s $8.4 billion Synageva buyout, has also been struggling mightily, and at Tuesday’s Goldman Sachs Healthcare Conference, Hantson assured investors that future M&A “would be ‘very disciplined’ so as to avoid another Kanuma-like situation,” Jefferies analyst Eun Yang wrote in a note to clients.
Meanwhile, Clancy’s departure is a loss for Biogen, which also recently came under new leadership. In December, the Cambridge drugmaker announced it would promote then-chief commercial officer Michael Vounatsos to replace exiting helmsman George Scangos, an appointment some analysts found "a bit underwhelming."