New blood at CSL

Pharmaceutical giant CSL will farewell its CEO Brian McNamee who has been one of Australia’s longest-serving chief executives.

Taking over CSL’s top job will be Paul Perreault, who currently runs the company’s highly lucrative CSL Behring business, the company announced.

Perreault joined CSL in 2004, following the acquisition of Aventis Behring.

He was appointed president of CSL Behring in July 2011, the blood plasma subsidiary that generates a big chunk of the company’s $US4.6 billion-plus ($A4.3 billion) annual revenues, SMH reported.

The blood plasma and vaccine giant is said to be currently worth $26.7 billion.

UBS analyst Andrew Goodsall sadi he was not surprised by the announcement.

''He was running the division that was responsible for the lion's share of revenue, so it wasn't much of a stretch to think he could run the company,'' Goodsall said.

''He's the right guy for the right time,'' he said.

Goodsall added that Perreault was highly respected in the pharmaceutical industry and that he is ''very commercially focused'', a point which CSL also stressed.

Discussing his successor, former CEO Brian McNamee said Perreault was a “straightforward” and “very good” person”.

McNamee went on to emphasise how similar he and Perreault are: both being the same age, married and enjoy a round of golf.

During McNamee’s time as chief executive, CSL acquired the Res Cross’ blood plasma business ZLB in 2000 and Aventis Behring in 2004.

The company had also planned to acquire US-based competitor Talecris for $US3.1 billion. However, the US regulator halted the buyout, accusing CSL of ''preventing oversupply'' of intravenous immunoglobin [IVIG] and plasma, and developing ''sophisticated oligopoly models to estimate and predict changes in supply and demand''.

Both allegations were strongly rejected by CSL.

If this third acquisition was to be successful it would've seen CSL and Talecris hold 80 per cent of the US market for blood plasma products.

In December, Manufacturer’s Monthly reported that CSL would consider moving some of its Australian manufacturing operations offshore.

The company cited a combination of ongoing industrial relations issues and a strong Aussie dollar were the reasons prompting offshore discussions.

At the time the AFR reported the company was considering Singapore and Switzerland for the manufacturing of its new products but a final decision is yet to be made.

“It could be Australia but it could be Switzerland or Singapore. Things like industrial relations issues and strong currency come into our investment decisions”, CSL chief scientist Andrew Cuthbertson said at the time.

To date around 89 per cent of CSL’s sales in the 2012 financial year were generated outside Australia, and 83 per cent of the company’s 10,515 employees operate outside Australia.

The company announced it will shift to reporting to US dollars this year.

CSL recently upgraded its Victorian R&D facility and is expected to increase research and development spending by 15 per cent this year to more than $400 million, the majority of which has been allocated to new product development.

Medicines Australia chairman Mark Masterson said in a speech to the National Press Club last year that a strong drugs industry could help Australia grow beyond the mining boom, and that the industry was showing more promise than other parts of the economy.