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New Actavis chief sweeps aside most top Allergan execs

December 16, 2014
Life sciences
Combining Actavis and Allergan will be no easy task, but the companies think their new leadership team can get the job done. Tuesday, they announced a supporting cast for CEO Brent Saunders, who will play the lead role in his biggest challenge yet.
 
Paul Bisaro, former Actavis CEO and current exec chairman, will stay on in that role while Allergan President Doug Ingram will act as a special adviser to Saunders. According to the young helmsman, Ingram’s appointment follows “extensive discussions” with Allergan CEO David Pyott, who will walk away with a $34,955,619 golden parachute.
 
The combined company will rejig its commercial ops, dividing sales and marketing three ways among international brands, branded pharma and Allergan medical. Brand R&D, which Botox-maker Allergan championed during its takeover battle with research-averse Valeant, will report directly to Saunders.
 
“[T]his combined leadership will ensure that the new company capitalizes on our expanded global commercial footprint, maintains our continued dominance as a world leader in generics and that we elevate our commitment to brand innovation and development,” Saunders said in a statement.
 
While the appointments may seem quick–the companies announced their merger pact just under a month ago–Saunders hopes laying out his plans early will help get shareholders–and, perhaps more importantly, employees–on board with the plan.
 
Saunders could use the support as he navigates his beefed-up leadership role, a big leap from a previous job as Bausch + Lomb CEO. After engineering the sale of that company to Valeant, Saunders jumped to CEO at Forest Labs, only to help orchestrate an Actavis pickup of that company. As Actavis chief, he’ll be responsible for running a top-10 global pharma company with about $23 billion in sales, The Wall Street Journal notes.
 
And he’ll have his hands full as Actavis works to hit the goals management laid out with the merger announcement, including revenue growth of at least 8% a year. That’s a high mark for a drugmaker of the new company’s size, with Big Pharmas typically managing top- and bottom-line growth of no more than a few percentage points a year, the WSJ points out.
 
But despite the company’s size, Saunders isn’t planning to run Actavis like some of its larger pharma peers. “We don’t want to be a big, bureaucratic company,” he told the paper.
 
By Carly Helfand
 

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