Lars Rebien steps down as CEO of Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisks CEO has announced his intention to retire and make way for current head of corporate development, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, at the helm of the insulin giant. But that is not the only management change.

Photo: Carsten Bundgaard

Novo Nordisk announced today that Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and chief executive officer, will retire from the company by the end of 2016. Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, currently executive vice president and head of Corporate Development, will succeed him, effective 1 January 2017.

"Succeeding Lars, who during 16 years as CEO of Novo Nordisk has spearheaded Novo Nordisk into a global, very successful and highly respected pharmaceutical company, is a tall order. On behalf of Novo Nordisk's Board of Directors and the company's employees, I want to thank Lars for his outstanding leadership, steady course and commitment to Novo Nordisk through good and difficult times during his 34 years with the company," says Chairman of the board Göran Ando about the departing chief exec.

Lars Rebien Sørensen is set to become a member of the board of directors in the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Foundation's holding company, Novo A/S, from March 2017.

"The decision to appoint Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen as new CEO is the result of a rigorous process during which a number of qualified candidates were considered. With his track record of creating results, driving change and being a role model for the Novo Nordisk Way of running a company, the Board is confident that he is the perfect successor to Lars Rebien Sørensen. In his new role, he will be charged with leading Novo Nordisk through a time of extraordinary change in healthcare systems around the world, with the company's long-term strategy, the Triple Bottom Line business principle and long-term financial targets as his guiding posts," Göran Ando says about the new man in charge of the Danish diabetes drug group.

More changes

The departure of Lars Rebien and the appointment of Lars Fruergaard also brings with it a slew of other changes at the top of the company.

Fruergaard's current position as EVP and head of corporate development will remain vacant for a while, and Novo says a successor will be announced “at a later date”.

Two executives were believed to be in play as the eventual successor to Lars Rebien. Aside from Fruergaard, current head of Region China, Pacific & Marketing, Jakob Riis, was believed to be in play.

He will, however, have to settle for a position as the head of the group’s important North America Operations. He succeeds Jesper Høiland, who steps down from Executive Management and whose future role in Novo Nordisk will be announced at a later date.

Høiland was put in charge of the North American business in august 2013. Before that he was in charge of International Operations.

Winners and losers

At the same time, then-head of North America, Jerzy Gruhn, took the trip across the Atlantic to head operations in Europe. He will continue to be in charge of this region, but is bumped from executive management and will continue in a role as senior vice president in the layer immediately below the executive management where he will report directly to Maziar Mike Doustdar, head of International Operations.

Maziar Mike Doustdar thus sees his area of responsibility increased and emerges as the other “winner” in the extensive reshuffle in Novo Nordisk. Aside from having Jerzy Gruhn reporting directly to him, he is also given the responsibility for Jakob Riis’ former region, giving him control of important Asian markets like China, Japan, and Korea.

When former deputy Kåre Schultz left Novo to become CEO of Lundbeck in April 2015, the Board decided to promote the heads of the group’s business activities in the US and Europe as well as International Operations and Product Supply to the top management layer. That remains in effect with the exception that Jerzy Gruhn moves down a notch on the corporate ladder.

From the turn of the year, Novo Nordisk’s executive management team will be comprised of six members – or seven if a replacement is found for Lars Fruergaards current position by then. Here is the team:

• Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and CEO (until 31 December 2016)

• Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, EVP, Corporate Development (president and CEO as from 1 January 2017)

• Jesper Brandgaard, EVP, chief financial officer

• Maziar Mike Doustdar, EVP, International Operations

• Jakob Riis, EVP, North America Operations

• Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, EVP, chief science officer

• Henrik Wulff, EVP, Product Supply

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- translated and edited by Martin Havtorn Petersen

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