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Sandoz CEO Richard Francis to step down

Published on: 15/03/19

Richard Francis is set to step down his role as Chief Executive of Novartis’ generics arm Sandoz after five years’ in the role, citing “personal reasons” for his departure, its parent company announced in a statement.

Francis arrived in the role in 2014, following a 13-year tenure at Biogen, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of its US commercial organisation. Francesco Balestrieri, the current Region Head Europe at Sandoz, will take over the reins at the company on an interim basis, it was also confirmed.

“I would like to thank Richard for his strong leadership of Sandoz over the past five years. During his tenure, Sandoz has consolidated its position as a global leader in biosimilars and he and his team have successfully navigated the business through changing market dynamics and challenging headwinds in the US,” commented Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan. “Now, as we initiate a multi-year transformation program for the business and move to make it more autonomous, Richard has decided that for personal reasons he cannot commit to stay with Sandoz until the transformation is completed. I understand his decision and wish him the very best for the future.”

“I would like to thank Francesco for stepping up to take on this role. His leadership approach and business experience will be of great importance as we continue the Sandoz transformation,” he added.

Remarking on his departure, Francis stated: "The past five years have been immensely satisfying and rewarding. I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team. Together, we have expanded access to medicines across the world and reached many millions of patients.  In particular, we have successfully launched five biosimilar products. As we announced earlier this year, Sandoz is embarking on a significant transformation. While I am excited by this, I realise that this is a multi-year journey which I cannot commit to and therefore have decided that now is the right time to step down."

Francis’ decision does little to dispel speculation over the future of Sandoz within its parent company, with Narasimhan seeking to “de-integrate” the division through a series of business decisions through to 2020.

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