No more working Saturdays at exports-minded Cipla

Why isn't Cipla as big as Ranbaxy Laboratories? That's the central question of an Economic Times story profiling Chairman Yusuf Hamied and his company's recent changes.  After years of promoting from within, Cipla has poached some top executives from rivals Lupin and Dr. Reddy's over the last 18 months. It elevated its ex-CFO to the board to replace a former joint managing director who left for health reasons. And to to answer succession questions, it added two of Hamied's sons to the senior management team.

And it cut its work week by a full day. Cipla HQ employees no longer have to work Saturdays, Hamied says, in a move aimed at improving recruitment. "When we went out to hire at senior level and they heard we worked on Saturdays, they didn't want to join," he told the ET.

All this is aimed at boosting Cipla's exports. The company is known for its cut-rate HIV drugs, but its Indian rivals have jumped into that market, too. Meanwhile, Cipla has some assets that could easily be levered into higher overseas sales, the ET says; for instance, it has long had an FDA-approved manufacturing site in the U.S., but its sales in the states remain far below Ranbaxy's--and Ranbaxy has had regulatory troubles with which to contend. Meanwhile, the company is using just 40% of the capacity at a major inhaled-drugs facility in India, an analyst said.

"Thousands of products have been developed, but are under-exploited," a former Cipla manager told the newspaper. But new product approvals have been secured, and some Cipla-watchers expect revenues to take a leap in fiscal 2013. Hamied figures Big Pharma might be quite interested in peddling Cipla's growing portfolio in emerging markets. "Exports are a lucrative, promising area with more opportunities than the local market," Hamied said. But, he adds, "[w]e can't expand to the size that we want on our own."

- get the ET piece