At drug firms, it is a revolving door at the top

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on January 24, 2018


An employee speaks on phone as he walks out of research and development centre of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in Mumbai April 7, 2014. India's Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd Managing Director Dilip Shanghvi said he expects Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd to become profitable in the short term. Sun said it will buy Ranbaxy in a $3.2 billion all-share deal, creating the world's fifth-largest generic drug maker from two firms struggling with quality issues in the lucrative United States market. Sun plans to focus on remediation of compliance issues that have resulted in bans at multiple Ranbaxy plants, Shanghvi told analysts on a conference call. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS HEALTH)

Industry sees this as worrisome churn, others see an opportunity for “cross fertilisation” of ideas

It seems to be raining exits at the drug companies.

Be it Sun Pharma-owned Ranbaxy, Cipla, Pfizer or Biocon — all are witnessing recent top-level movement for reasons varying from being the fall-out of a merger to moving back to the parent company or just plain “personal reasons”.

Ranbaxy, for instance, has been seeing top-level exits ever since Sun Pharma made its $4 billion proposal to merge the company with it.

Cipla has seen the exit of Kamil Hamied, nephew of YK Hamied and more recently, the company announced Chief Financial Officer Rajesh Garg would leave, ahead of his term.

Pfizer India-chief Aijaz “Jazz” Tobaccowalla is taking “a new global role” with the parent company. And Biocon’s Research and Development President Abhijit Barve too, is moving back to the US, but for personal reasons.

And while some in the industry see this as a worrisome churn, others point out that it was an opportunity for “cross fertilisation” of ideas, as companies learnt from each other through this revolving door of professionals.

Sun-Ranbaxy combine

Facing the aftermath of a merger are officials at the Sun-Ranbaxy combine.

In its post-merger media interaction in March, Sun chief Dilip Shanghvi had said that erstwhile Ranbaxy chief Arun Sawhney and other members of senior management had not yet found a role in the company.

Sun sources maintain that Sawhney is with the company, without giving details.

Nevertheless, the entity is witnessing the largest number of exits with reports suggesting that 150 more top executives face the axe, even as 18 were asked to leave.

Without getting into details, Sun said, “If there are few employees who could not be positioned appropriately, the organisation will make all attempts to handle the same in a fair, transparent and sensitive manner.” The focus would be on “creating an environment of meaningful professional opportunities for our employees to lead, succeed and grow,” it added.

At Cipla, Kamil Hamied’s exit comes even as the company’s promoter-family sought clarity from the market regulator SEBI on a proposed family agreement allowing the family to vote as one.

In fact, the indication was that agreement would allow Kamil Hamied to represent his father MK Hamied and uncle YK Hamied, in their absence.

Responding to queries on development at Cipla, its spokesperson said: “As part of his leadership development, Kamil Hamied, who had stepped out of the India parent and was working in our EU subsidiary in London, will take some time to broaden his leadership and business experience outside of Cipla to achieve his personal growth objectives.”

“Cipla has a professional management team in place, and this team will continue to lead and drive Cipla,” she added.

In a more low-key development, Pfizer’s Tobaccowalla heads back to the parent company, once a successor is in place here.

And while Tobaccowalla oversaw the Pfizer-Wyeth global merger as it played out in India, he also was at the helm as its Thane plant saw a lock-out situation.

In fact, at present, its Goa plant too, is witnessing “conciliation” efforts between its workers union and the plant management, being heard at the State Labour Commissioner's office.

As for Biocon, a company spokesperson confirmed that R&D head Barve was moving back to the US, albeit for personal reasons.

Pointing out that the research projects and late stage trials would continue, the company said that the R&D leadership team had been recently strengthened with the appointment of Naren Chirumule, Vice-President Scientific Research and Sreesha Srinivasa, Associate Vice-President, Translational Research.

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Published on June 18, 2015
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