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Richard Francis will step down as CEO of Sandoz, effective March 31, 2019.
On March 14, 2019, Novartis announced changes to the leadership of its Sandoz division. Richard Francis will be stepping down as CEO of Sandoz and as a member of the Novartis executive committee, effective March 31, 2019. Francesco Balestrieri, currently region head Europe, Sandoz, has been appointed ad-interim CEO of Sandoz. Balestrieri will report to Vas Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis.
"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 [b]iosimilars, and he and his team have successfully navigated the business through changing market dynamics and challenging headwinds in the [United States]. 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," said Vas Narasimhan, in a company press release.
Regarding his decision to step down, Francis said in the press release: "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 realize 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."
Ad-interim CEO Balestrieri has spent the last eight years running commercial operations in Generics, most recently as region head of Sandoz Europe, which represents half of Sandoz' global sales and organization. Balestrieri has been with Novartis for 25 years. Prior to Sandoz, he held various leadership positions at Ciba Vision, including as head of Ciba Vision US.
"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," Vas Narasimhan added in the press release.