Vasella, Jimenez share the limelight

There's nothing like a surprise CEO announcement to get the media excited. Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella's (photo) confession that he'd be handing off his CEO responsibilities to pharma head Joe Jimenez (photo) really has people talking. For your reading pleasure, we rounded up some of the more interesting takes on a.) Vasella's tenure, b.) Jimenez' personality and background, and c.) Novartis present and future.

  • Novartis' new CEO appointment is the latest stage in a changing of the guard within the usually slow-moving pharma sector. In the past two years, four of the top six companies have changed or announced a change in their chief executives--and the other two, Pfizer and Merck, have announced mega-mergers that will change the face of their companies. Story
  • Why now for Vasella? He'd been getting pressure from shareholders who thought his holding both CEO and chairman titles gave him too much power at a company Novartis' size. But it may have been Roche's splitting of the CEO and chair roles that finally did the trick; Vasella told his board last year he was planning to hand off the CEO baton. News

  • Under Vasella's leadership, sales have risen significantly, as have dividends. Unfortunately, the performance of the Novartis' shares has been mediocre, the Financial Times says. Along the way, his salary rose sharply, turning him into one of the highest paid Swiss executives. Piece

  • The board only finally endorsed Jimenez as CEO on Monday, but Vasella says he informed them of his intention to relinquish the chief executive role last June, setting off an internal competition pitting Jimenez against the veteran insider Jörg Reinhardt. "The process has to be very clean," Vasella told the FT. "There were no leaks. It reflects how we work." More from the FT

  • Jimenez says more than 20 years selling Clorox bleach and Heinz ketchup taught him to make decisions quickly--a trait that will prove invaluable as new CEO. Jimenez says he's already started to speed up decision-making at the drugmaker. Post

Novartis' 54 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit beat forecasts by 20 percent. But growth concerns remain: Novartis faces price cuts in the U.S., Japan and Turkey, and generic competition on key drug Diovan. Question marks remain over its pipeline. Jimenez' priority should be cost-cutting, the WSJ states. What's your opinion of Novartis' choice to succeed Vasella as CEO? How do you think Jimenez and Vasella will share power? Let us know what you think.

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