Willing to pay the price to be number one
Name: Flemming Ornskov
Title: CEO, Shire
For Flemming Ornskov, a fling with AbbVie ($ABBV) over a proposed merger that quickly went sour was just a temporary sidestep from the big journey he had in mind for Shire ($SHPG).
When he was named CEO back in 2012, Ornskov barreled in with a plan to unify a company that had once been lauded for its global diversity. And at no point was that more obvious than when the company outlined a plan to dismember its R&D operations in Pennsylvania and relocate an uncertain number of staffers to its Boston-area flagship facility, where the CEO operates.
Ornskov has great ambition, and his to-do list makes him particularly influential in today's go-go life sciences scene. After snapping up a half-dozen small biotechs, he set his sights on a $5.2 billion deal for NPS. And he's not in the least bit reluctant to discuss his dreams of creating the kind of big biotech that Biogen ($BIIB) has become in the past 5 years.
Shire came away from its broken merger with AbbVie with more than $13 billion stashed away to pursue new deals, and analysts love speculating about which target Ornskov will go after next. With a big focus on rare diseases, that could mean a bid for the likes of BioMarin ($BMRN), or the smaller but equally high-profile Ultragenyx ($RARE).
Ornskov's aggressive style has earned him some unwelcome attention. Shire's penchant for moving profits to business-friendly Luxembourg has sparked some pushback from politicians in the U.K., who have become increasingly alert to perfectly legal but controversial tax dodging on the part of the global biopharma business. Ornskov's response: Low taxes allow the company to spend 18% of revenue on R&D. (That's not unusual, and many of Shire's rivals in the business commit more than that to research.)
The Shire CEO may have plenty more fires to put out as he continues to radically reengineer the company to fit his vision. But he shows no signs of backing away from the contest.
-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)
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