Novartis Chief Executive Jimenez to Retire in 2018, Narasimhan Named Successor

Joseph Jimenez (l) will retire next year and be succeeded by Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan, MD.

BASEL, Switzerland—Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) chief executive officer Joseph Jimenez, who has led the company since 2010, announced Monday that he plans to step down as CEO in January and retire from the company on Aug. 31, 2018. The pharma company, which also owns Alcon, said its board of directors has appointed Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan, MD, the company’s global head of drug development and chief medical officer, to succeed Jimenez, effective Feb. 1, 2018. Dr. Narasimhan, a member of the company’s executive committee, joined Novartis in 2005.

In a statement, Jimenez said that “both from a professional and a personal perspective, this is the right moment to hand the leadership reins of the company to Vas. Our strong pipeline and the strategic moves we have taken to focus the company have put Novartis on a strong path for the future.” Jimenez also noted that, after 10 years of living in Switzerland, he and his family are “ready to return to Silicon Valley and the U.S.”

Jimenez held the CEO title at Novartis in 2010, at the time the company completed its multi-step acquisition of Alcon that had begun in 2008 when the pharma company bought shares of the eyecare company from former majority owner Nestlé.

As VMail previously reported, Jimenez also announced in January that Novartis had begun to review options for the Alcon division “to maximize shareholder value.” A decision is expected toward the end of this year, the company said at the time. The options include a spinoff, an initial public offering (IPO) or retaining the Alcon business.

In its most recent quarter, Alcon reported sales growth of 3 percent across its product portfolio and, as a result, revised upward its full-year guidance for Alcon sales to low single-digit growth, as VMail reported.

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