Vasella, Daniel Lucius

▪ 1997

      Early in 1996 Daniel Vasella, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sandoz Pharma Ltd., was named president of the newly formed Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, which was established as a result of the largest merger ever in the pharmaceutical industry. The combined company would unite industry giants Sandoz Ltd. and Ciba-Geigy Ltd., two Swiss-based health care groups, in a $29 billion merger that would make Novartis a titan second in size and influence only to Britain's Glaxo Wellcome, the world's largest pharmaceutical concern. Vasella predicted that the merger "will considerably strengthen our competitiveness while freeing up resources for further growth." He would assume a joint leadership role with Novartis chairman Alex Krauer, who had served as chairman of Ciba-Geigy. The two would be responsible for overseeing the company's overall development and direction, and Vasella would also serve as head of the company's executive committee.

      Vasella was born in 1953 and received a M.D. in 1980 from the University of Bern, Switz. For the next four years, he held residencies at various hospitals in Bern and Zürich before serving (1984-88) as the attendant physician at C.L. Lory Haus at the University Hospital in Bern. He left medicine in 1988 and joined the marketing department of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corp. in New Jersey, the U.S.-based division of Sandoz Pharma. Vasella moved up quickly in the marketing and sales department to become department head of special product marketing. He was appointed assistant vice president in 1992 and became head of the corporate marketing department the following year. In 1994 Vasella returned to Switzerland and accepted the position of head of the worldwide development office at Sandoz's headquarters in Basel. He was named CEO of Sandoz the following year. As president of Novartis, which concentrated on research and development in the three main areas of health care, agriculture, and nutrition, Vasella would also be responsible for coordinating the integration of the Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy product lines.

      Vasella, who was awaiting final U.S. Federal Trade Commission approval for completion of the merger, was nonetheless optimistic about Novartis's future, saying, "We will now move forward to build our company based on a common spirit of entrepreneurial energy, teamwork, and enthusiasms for our new future."

      (AMANDA E. FULLER)

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Universalium. 2010.

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