Novartis Board Was Shocked by Vasella’s Decision to Leave
Novartis AG (NOVN) Chairman Daniel Vasella, who spent more than two decades building Europe’s largest drugmaker, said he will step down next month because finding the right successors coincided with a good pipeline for the company and his own timing.
The unexpected announcement Jan. 23 came after six months of planning and strategic work by directors, Vasella said. He shocked the board in October when he told them he wanted to start the process, and several directors tried to talk him out of leaving, he said.
“One board member finally said, ‘I think Dan has made up his mind,’” Vasella recalled in an interview yesterday at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Vasella, 59, built a company that diversified into eye care, vaccines and generic medicines, and outperformed the industry in developing new patented drugs. He also drew controversy for the size of his pay, and criticism for acquisitions that some investors say haven’t paid off. The stock gained the most in 16 months when his departure was announced.