India's Ranbaxy Laboratories has lost its CEO and managing director. Atul Sobti, who has been running the generics maker since May 2009, tendered his resignation, effective next Thursday. Ranbaxy tapped Arun Sawhney, president of its global drug business, to take over as managing director, but didn't name a new CEO.
Daiichi Sankyo bought a 64 percent stake in Ranbaxy in 2008, and the Japanese drugmaker has two seats on the company's seven-member board, Bloomberg points out. Sobti chose to make his exit now because it was the "right time to step down," Daiichi spokesman Masaya Tamae tells the news service. He "was on happy terms with the rest of the board."
But Sobti had another story at a media briefing. "When such things happen," Sobti said (as quoted by Reuters), "there would be obviously differences of opinion individually and how you believe the company should go forward."
Sobti took over from former CEO Malvinder Singh, scion of the company's founding Singh family; he inherited a company with some serious quality control problems. The FDA had already blocked 30 drugs made in India from U.S. sale, and by December got a warning letter citing problems at a U.S. plant. The agency demanded information on all of Ranbaxy's plants that make products for sale in the U.S., and later rejected its version of the prostate drug Flomax, which had been anticipated as a major money-maker for the company.
So, will Daiichi send in the cavalry--or at least a new CEO--from Japan? Or will it continue to rely on homegrown management to fix the problems?