Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. unveiled a shakeup of its highest ranks on Monday, with new chief executive officer Joseph Papa assembling a fresh team around him as he tries to orchestrate a dramatic turnaround at the beleaguered company.
The moves reassigned three senior Valeant executives to manage more global portfolios and put new faces into key roles in its legal and communications departments, paving the way for the departure of several long-time employees.
Since Mr. Papa joined Valeant in April, the Laval, Que.-based drug maker has been focused on changing its culture, bolstering its roster of current and future drugs, and getting its financial house in order by reducing its debt load of more than $30-billion (U.S.) through asset sales. But the company is trying to do those things while fending off a series of legal actions related to its failed growth strategy and the collapse of its stock price, which has fallen 91 per cent in a year.
Christina Ackermann, a lawyer who spent the past 14 years at Novartis AG, has been named general counsel, succeeding Robert Chai-Onn, who will be leaving Valeant after a transition period, the company said in a news release.
Since joining Valeant in 2004, the company said Mr. Chai-Onn played a key role in executing the company's strategy, which, up until this year, had been growth driven almost entirely through acquisitions and steep increases in the prices of the drugs it bought, rather than through its own research and development.
This year will be a busy one for Ms. Ackermann and Valeant's legal team: It faces multiple shareholder lawsuits, probes from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Internal Revenue Service, and an insider trading lawsuit.
Scott Hirsch was hired as Valeant's senior vice-president of business strategy and communications, joining from asset manager Citadel Investment Group.
Laurie Little, who has led the investor and public relations functions for the past nine years, will be leaving in the coming months. Pavel Mirovsky, who managed Valeant's presence in Europe, is set to retire later this year.
Analysts at Wells Fargo Securities LLC said they have "mixed" feelings about the overhaul. They wrote that while they are pleased to see some senior leaders who supported the old strategy are leaving the company, they are concerned about whether some of the replacements are the right candidates for these jobs.
"Some of the new hires appear to lack experience in key capacities, which is especially concerning to us given the significant amount of uncertainty that Valeant currently faces," analyst David Maris and two associates wrote in a report to clients. "We believe investors may question some of the changes."
The Wells analysts also took issue with Mr. Papa's decision to expand the mandate of Tom Appio, who has been managing the Asia-Pacific region. Though he appears to have limited experience with the European and Latin American markets, Mr. Appio will now lead all markets other than the United States and Canada.
As part of the shifting of executive assignments, Dr. Ari Kellen will lead Valeant's global Bausch & Lomb unit and Anne Whitaker will run the company's branded pharmaceuticals business. Mr. Papa also announced five new members to his executive committee.