Sanofi plucks new CFO from outside pharma

Sanofi-Aventis has a new CFO, starting next week: Jerome Contamine, a former exec at Veolia Environment, will move into the finance office as of March 16. His charge, according to a statement from CEO Chris Viehbacher (photo): to be "deeply involved in the simplification of our operational structures to adapt our group to future challenges."

Contamine replaces Laurence Debroux, who was tapped as chief strategic officer only two months after taking over from former CFO Jean-Claude Leroy. Leroy, as you know, departed less than two weeks after Viehbacher stepped in as CEO.

It's been awhile since the wave of new CFOs hit Big Pharma and Big Biotech. More than half a dozen drugmakers have newish CFOs, including Pfizer (Frank D'Amelio), Wyeth (Greg Norden), AstraZeneca (Simon Lowth), Merck (Peter Kellogg), Amgen (Robert Bradway). Several of the newbies--including Sanofi's--came from outside the pharma industry as drugmakers sought fresh blood. Lowth joined Wyeth from Scottish Power, for instance, and D'Amelio jumped to Pfizer from Alcatel-Lucent.

Does "simplification of our operational structures" mean Contamine will be carrying the jobs ax, as Frank D'Amelio did when he moved in at Pfizer? Only time will tell.

- see the release from Sanofi
- read the Wall Street Journal story
- check out the profile of Contamine at Forbes