Novo Nordisk blew out the first quarter, with sales increases all over the place, and a 73% leap in earnings. But the most surprising part of that press release is slotted in at the very end: “Kåre Schultz, president and COO, leaves Novo Nordisk.”
Schultz had been expected to take the CEO chair from Lars Rebien Sørensen, who’s 61 years old and nearing the end of his employment contract. Sørensen wasn’t exactly ready to head for the exit, but in the meantime, Novo had elevated Schultz to president and COO. The idea–or so it was said–was to get Schultz ready for the top job.
Now, it’s on to Plan B.
To replace Schultz, the Danish drugmaker is shuffling top management to add several people to its executive committee, including U.S. commercial chief Jesper Høiland, European commercial chief Jerzy Gruhn, and supply chain chief Henrik Wulff.
Novo executives discussed Q1 results Thursday morning. In the company statement, though, his only comment about the management changes was this: “Kåre Schultz has during his 26 years with us played a key role in making Novo Nordisk a successful global company. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Sørensen talked more expansively about the company’s Q1 results, marked by sales increases of top products Victoza (up 18% in constant currencies, twice as much operationally) and Levemir (up 13%). North American sales grew across the board by 12%. Margins grew by 1.6 percentage points, thanks to foreign exchange boosts.
Overall, Novo’s first-quarter sales were up by 9% in local currencies, to 25.2 Danish crowns, or about $3.78 billion. Profits? almost 10 billion crowns, or about $1.49 billion, including the partial divestment of its IT subsidiary, NNIT, for an increase of 53%. Without that sale, profits were up 22%.
By Tracy Staton