Sector News

Sanofi sacks chief executive Viehbacher

October 29, 2014
Life sciences
Sanofi’s Board of Directors has sacked chief executive Chris Viehbacher abruptly cutting his six-year run at the helm of the firm.
The French drugmaker said in a rather terse statement this morning that the Board had “unanimously” agreed to “remove” Viebacher, but also thanked him for “all the work done during the last six years, which has enabled the Group to move through a sensitive and important transition phase”. 
The rumour mill has been running for some time over Viehbacher’s future at the firm, largely because of his tough management style, relocation to the US this year, and recent run in with chairman Serge Weinberg. French newspaper Les Echos published last week a letter dated September 4 in which Viehbacher said he had become aware that Weinberg was “actively seeking a successor”.
“Changing the CEO would be against a backdrop of a company and a leader perceived to be succeeding strongly. Such a change would be difficult to understand”, he wrote, making his case to stay in the role.
Disagreement and poor cooperation
Weinberg reportedly said the decision to sack him was made because of disagreement over the chief executive’s management style and poor cooperation with the board, according to Reuters, and he also told a press conference that there was “a lack of trust in Viehbacher’s relationship with the board”.
In a statement, the Board said Sanofi “needs to pursue its development with a management aligning the teams, harnessing talents and focusing on execution with a close and confident cooperation with the board”.
None-the-less, it is quite shocking that the firm made the move without having a replacement lined up. For now, Weinberg will assume the role temporarily.
The news, coupled with yesterday’s that diabetes sales at the firm could be flat next year, saw almost 17 billion euros wiped from its value this week, according to reports.
By Selina McKee

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