Tuesday, 04 Aug, 1.45 pm Business Upturn

Cipla India CEO to resign in September, major re-shuffle on the way amid 3 exits

Pharma major Cipla has seen major exits in the top mangement in its India business. The exits come as a surprise as Cipla’s India business had started delivering good growth after a hiatus of a few quarters.

The CEO of the Indian operations, Nikhil Chopra who was given the charge last year, has decided to move out of the company. He has been a Cipla veteran with over 24 years in the company and has been instrumental in integrating the generics business.

Nikhil Lalwani, the head of India prescriptions business, reporting directly to Chopra has also resigned. Lalwani was early responsible for Cipla’s business in the United States. Kunal Khanna, Head of Chronic & Emerging Biz in Cipla has also moved out.

Sources tell CNBC-TV18 that Nikhil Chopra will be leading the India business until September 2020 for a seamless transition. Chopra’s successor is yet to be announced and in the interim, all direct reports of Nikhil Chopra will be reporting to company CEO Umang Vohra.

In a major reshuffle of roles, Dr Vikas Gupta will be leading the Chronic cluster and will also have the additional responsibility for Business Development and Portfolio. Kamalesh Kalidasan will lead the Emerging cluster and Shaikh Barak Tulla will now be responsible for the Acute cluster.

Dilip Singh Rathore to lead the Respiratory cluster, which is a major focus area for Cipla. Jortin George will lead the Alternate Channel Business and Sunil Gupta will continue to head the Gx business.

After a period of patchy growth, Cipla's India business had reported a 12% YoY growth in FY20, with the generics unit growing at 15 percent Y-o-Y. With the Cipla management’s recent focus of investing in home markets and in-licensing and acquisition of brands in India, analysts expect the growth momentum to continue in the coming quarters.

Mumbai based Cipla has been at the forefront in COVID-19 care with drugs like Remdesivir being rolled out. Cipla is one of the 6 companies to have an in-licencing agreement with innovator Gilead Sciences to manufacture and market Remdesivir in 127 countries including India.

Sources indicate that while business performance was possibly not the reason for top-level exits, differences with the Cipla promoters on handling business matters could have forced exits.

In a statement to CNBC-TV18, Cipla confirmed the development and said, “They have served significant tenures in Cipla, we deeply value their contribution, respect their professional aspirations and wish them all the best. Cipla is a professionally run organisation with robust talent management and succession development processes. Our business momentum continues to be on strong footing and we are backed by a solid workforce of 23,000 employees who are driving Cipla in its next growth phase.”

The last senior exit was in January 2020 when R Ananthanarayanan who was serving as the Global Chief Operating Officer at Cipla had resigned and later recruited as CEO and Managing Director at Strides Pharma.

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