Drugmaker Sanofi Fired Its CEO For Being Insufficiently French? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Drugmaker Sanofi has suddenly fired its CEO, Chris Viehbacher. The board met early this morning.

Bizarrely, Viehbacher's ousting comes in part because he was insufficiently French, it seems:

  • He was the company's first non-French boss.
  • He moved to Boston to run the company (its HQ and board were based in Paris).
  • He made the company less French and more international in its outlook.
  • And in doing so, he made enemies on the French board, who have now temporarily replaced him with a Frenchman, Chairman Serge Weinberg.

The firing is ironic because Viehbacher was brought in originally to de-Frenchify the company. When he was hired, the company wrote its press releases in a sort of strangled "Franglais," using English peppered with French spellings like "Septembre." Viehbacher is a German Canadian who got the Sanofi job after being head of US pharma at GlaxoSmithKline, where he had a reputation for playing hardball and telling it like it is.

One of the first things he did at Sanofi was oversee a massive program of layoffs. All of the foregoing was an obvious breath of fresh air at Sanofi at the time, but it now looks as if the French board has had enough.