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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "PAID"

Novartis’ 41-Year-Old CEO Steers Drug Maker Back to R&D

Westlake Legal Group novartis-41-year-old-ceo-steers-drug-maker-back-to-rd Novartis' 41-Year-Old CEO Steers Drug Maker Back to R&D PAID

Novartis AG NVS 0.27% has spent the past five years getting smaller. Its new chief executive has to decide soon how much more it will shrink.

Vasant Narasimhan, a 41-year-old Harvard-trained doctor, took the helm earlier this month at Novartis, the world’s No. 2 prescription-drug firm by sales after Pfizer Inc. Dr. Narasimhan has promised a technological revolution at Novartis to boost its drug-development pipeline. He inherits an empire that his predecessor spent most of his tenure pruning to focus more on its bread and butter—finding and developing new prescription drugs.

“We need to become a focused medicines company that’s powered by data science and digital technologies,” Dr. Narasimhan said in a recent interview.

Amid his larger ambitions for using new technology to boost a drugs push, Dr. Narasimhan faces looming decisions on whether to sell two big units: Novartis has said it would decide within 18 months whether to spin off its Alcon eyecare business, and it is reviewing the U.S. arm of its Sandoz generics business.

“Timing Alcon’s spinoff right and dealing with Sandoz could become a big headache for the new CEO and distract some of his attention from R&D,” UBS analyst Michael Leuchten said.

Dr. Narasimhan, an Indian-born U.S. citizen, joined Novartis in 2005 from consultancy McKinsey & Co., rose quickly through the Swiss drugmaker’s ranks and ultimately ran its prized research-and-development arm.

Now, as CEO, he is pushing a series of tech-based initiatives he says could jump-start the company’s drug pipeline. He wants to introduce artificial-intelligence to find new biomarkers, molecules that can help identify patients most likely to respond to a specific treatment and speed up clinical trials. Novartis also is working on devices including wearable sensors to capture real-time data during drug trials: New sensor technology it developed with Microsoft Corp. , for example, would help it monitor multiple-sclerosis symptoms in trials.

But before devoting his full attention to those initiatives, Dr. Narasimhan has to decide what to do about Alcon and Sandoz.

Novartis bought Alcon in two transactions starting 10 years ago for a total of more than $50 billion, and it has been a big disappointment—until recently. Sales growth has picked up, making any decision to shed the unit a much tougher call.

Dr. Narasimhan also is struggling with the Sandoz generics unit in the U.S. It has been a reliable money-spinner, but fourth-quarter revenue tumbled 17% in the U.S. last year, reflecting pricing weakness in generic drugs and raising questions about whether Novartis will part ways with the unit.

While Novartis has said it would continue to invest in Sandoz’s unit for biosimilar drugs—near-replicas of biologic drugs, which are made using living cells—it will need to take hard look at the rest of its portfolio in the U.S.

“We have to ask ourselves how we want to shape our U.S. presence in the future,” Dr. Narasimhan said. “It’s going to take some time for us to assess and come up with the right answer.”

Over the past decade, drug makers like Novartis, U.S. rival Pfizer and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline PLC have invested billions of dollars diversifying into businesses like consumer health care—think toothpaste, pain killers—and vaccines, to help mitigate the loss of patent protection on some of their biggest-selling medicines.

Now, as some of these giants work their way through the bulk of those expirations, they are reversing course and refocusing again on high-risk, but high-margin, prescription drugs: Pfizer is selling its giant consumer health care business, and Glaxo, under its own new, young CEO, has promised to double down on the R&D pipeline.

Novartis says 2017 was a “landmark year for innovation.” It received 16 approvals for new drugs or for new indications for existing products—and it will be able to maintain that pace in 2018, a company spokesman said.

It falls to Dr. Narasimhan to keep the momentum going. He succeeds Joseph Jimenez, who as CEO dismantled the sprawling drug and health-care giant his predecessor had built. In 2014, he sold Novartis’s animal health unit. He spun off its consumer health-care business into an independent joint-venture and sold the company’s vaccine unit in 2015.

The down-sizing affected sales, shrinking them almost by a fifth over the past five years. Novartis stock has underperformed that peers, rising 41% over Mr. Jimenez’s eight-year tenure, compared with a rise of 130% over the same period for the S&P Global 1200 Health Care Index.

Last month, Novartis reported annual sales rose 1% for 2017—its first revenue increase in three years.

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at noemie.bisserbe@wsj.com

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Fed Chairman Powell Taps Two Senior Advisers

Westlake Legal Group fed-chairman-powell-taps-two-senior-advisers Fed Chairman Powell Taps Two Senior Advisers PAID

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has tapped two monetary policy specialists to serve as senior advisers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jon Faust, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University, will return to the Fed to advise Mr. Powell on a part-time basis. He served as a senior adviser to Mr. Powell’s predecessors, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, from 2012 to 2014.

Mr….

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

‘Black Panther’ Album on Track for Heroic Opening Week

Westlake Legal Group black-panther-album-on-track-for-heroic-opening-week 'Black Panther' Album on Track for Heroic Opening Week PAID

“Black Panther: The Album” is set to deliver the strongest album debut for a Walt Disney Co. movie in at least five years.

The album, produced by superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar and producer Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, was released Feb. 9 and features “music from and inspired by” the Marvel Studios film of the same name that opened Thursday night. In addition to Mr. Lamar, who appears on five of the 14 tracks, it is stacked with star power from SZA, the Weeknd, Khalid, Future and others.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

For Tech Giants, Halting Russian Meddling Won’t Be Easy

Westlake Legal Group for-tech-giants-halting-russian-meddling-wont-be-easy For Tech Giants, Halting Russian Meddling Won't Be Easy PAID

The U.S. indictment handed down against three Russian companies and 13 individuals shows starkly how ill-prepared the tech giants were for the type of aggressive influence campaign the Russians allegedly mounted.

The details also suggest it won’t be easy to stop such tactics in the run-up to the midterm election in less than nine months, say researchers who study social media.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Like Peter Thiel, Tech Workers Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley ‘Echo Chamber’

Westlake Legal Group like-peter-thiel-tech-workers-feel-alienated-by-silicon-valley-echo-chamber Like Peter Thiel, Tech Workers Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley 'Echo Chamber' PAID

Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has said he plans to leave Silicon Valley in part because of its perceived cultural uniformity. He isn’t the only one.

Several tech workers and entrepreneurs also have said they left or plan to leave the San Francisco Bay Area because they feel people there are resistant to different social values and political ideologies. Groupthink and homogeneity are making it a worse place to live and work, these workers said.

“I think the politics of San Francisco have gotten a little bit crazy,” said Tom McInerney, an angel investor who moved a decade ago to Los Angeles from the Bay Area.

“The Trump election was super polarizing and it definitely illustrated—and Peter [Thiel] said this—how out of touch Silicon Valley was,” said Mr. McInerney, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.

Tim Ferriss, the tech investor and best-selling author of the “4 Hour Workweek,” moved to Austin, Texas, in December, after living in the Bay Area for 17 years, partly because he because he felt people there penalized anyone who didn’t conform to a hyper liberal credo.

People in Silicon Valley “openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified,” said Mr. Ferriss in a recent discussion on Reddit.

Mr. Ferriss, who describes himself as socially liberal, said during the discussion that he found that Austin has a “a wonderful exploding scene of art, music, film, tech, food, and more,” adding that “the people are also—in general—much friendlier.”

Proponents of Silicon Valley point to its rich history as a hotbed of entrepreneurism teeming with new ideas, a region that has spawned some of the world’s biggest companies. Tech leaders have a unique brand of politics, they say, typically favoring globalization, free trade and immigration, while also generally supporting capitalism and opposing labor unions and government regulation.

“Nowhere but Silicon Valley is there as much of an intensity and variety of creation and development going on,” said Aydin Senkut, a startup investor at Felicis Ventures. “I think it’s up to you as an individual to not be limited to the echo chamber in Silicon Valley.” Mr. Senkut says he seeks out friends in art and other industries beyond tech, and his firm looks for investments outside of the Bay Area.

San Francisco

Washington, D.C.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

What the Price of Ham Tells Us About Spain’s Economy

Westlake Legal Group what-the-price-of-ham-tells-us-about-spains-economy What the Price of Ham Tells Us About Spain's Economy PAID

RONDA, Spain—The latest sign of Spain’s bullish economic recovery?​A surge in ham prices that some are calling a bubble.

Cheered by strong economic growth, Spaniards are shaking off one of the country’s worst downturns in decades and splurging on goods recently considered extravagant. That includes the ultimate Spanish gastronomic luxury: free-range, acorn-fed Iberian ham.

On a recent morning, José Manuel Jiménez Laguna, a pig broker, fielded calls from farmers eager to buy Iberian piglets at prices that are 40% higher than a year ago. A 50-pound, purebred Iberian piglet, which produces high-quality jamón ibérico de bellota, sells on average for around €115 ($143) vs. around €83 at the same time last year.

“The prices are astronomical!” Mr. Jiménez Laguna told a rancher over the phone while driving between farms near Ronda in southern Spain.

The Spanish economy—one of the brightest spots in Europe—has bounced back after a decadelong property boom went bust, shrinking the country’s trillion-euro economy by 8% and catapulting unemployment to 27%. Since 2013, the economy has erased those losses, and last year it surpassed its pre-crisis output.

Unemployment has fallen, though it still hovers at 17%. Private-sector salaries could rise this year for the first time in six years, notes Ignacio de la Torre, chief economist of investment bank Arcano Group in Madrid.

Luxury car salesman Felipe Carreto Berceo sold five more Ferraris and Lamborghinis—a 30% increase—last year compared with 2016. The rise in property prices in Madrid and Barcelona have emboldened some clients to splurge. “At first, we were cautious, we didn’t know if it was something temporary,” he said. “Little by little, we began to realize there was in fact an economic upturn.”

Spaniards bought 2.4 million new cars in the past two years, and spent about 30% more on eating and drinking out in 2017 vs. a trough in 2013, according to estimates from the Spanish Hostelry Association. One side effect: 2018 is expected to be the third straight year in which more restaurants open than close.

In Spain, more meals on the town mean more jamón, an omnipresent food eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Legs of jamón hang ubiquitously from the ceilings of eateries throughout Spain. Those who master the art of slicing the meat into paper-thin slices are given prestigious awards. Many companies include a leg of jamón in traditional Christmas baskets for employees.

When Spain’s real-estate boom went bust, the bottom also fell out of the ham market.

Higher profits had attracted Iberian pig farmers to flood the market with more hogs and sometimes sell lower-quality ham masked as the acorn-fed, free-range variety. Allowing the pigs to graze on acorns gives the meat a special marbling and taste.

When the crisis hit, domestic demand plummeted and lenders cut off funding. Spanish pig farmers cut the number of acorn-fed pigs they slaughtered to 366,000 in 2013 from just over 900,000 in 2008.

Iberian pig farmer José Antonio Carvajal was forced to sell his animals at prices that were 50% lower than before the economy crashed, barely breaking even. He slashed his herd from 350 to fewer than 80.

“You know your product is worth more than that, but there’s no other option,” Mr. Carvajal recalled as he surveyed his 1,200-acre farm recently. Many farmers were ruined, and “some of them will never come back to the sector—they’re fearful.”

During the downturn, many farmers stopped breeding piglets and even killed sows to cut costs. Top-quality Iberian ham takes at least three years to cure, and much of the jamón ibérico currently on the market is from pigs slaughtered during the crisis.

Today, prices are rising as that limited crisis-era supply comes to market. The price of cured Iberian ham products rose more than 50% to around €30 per kilogram in the first half of 2017 vs. €19.50 in 2013, according to the most recent figures from Anice , Spain’s meat industry association. A full leg of jamón can cost €500 or more. There are no figures for the acorn-fed variety, which can be double or triple the price of other Iberian jamones.

The prices, though, haven’t deterred shoppers like María José González. “Here in Spain, if you want to give a gourmet food party, Iberian ham is a must,” says the lawyer, walking out of a high-end ham shop in Madrid’s toniest shopping district, with some slices of the acorn-fed variety. “It’s superb.”

Pork producers and buyers argue prices will remain high, helped in part by 2014 regulations intended to make it harder to mis-sell lower-quality Iberian pigs—which have been fattened on feed and are not free range—as the acorn-fed variety.

Mr. Jiménez Laguna, the pig broker, says talk of a possible bubble in the top-quality Iberian ham market is overblown: A luxury item justifies a high price tag.

The 38-year-old is so confident of demand for jamón that he agreed to buy back the piglets he’s helping sell to farmers in a couple of years when the animals are fully grown. He will slaughter them for his company, Monte Nevado , which cures and then sells the ham.

On a visit to a farm, Mr. Jiménez Laguna reaches down to pick up a handful of acorns while dozens of black Iberian pigs graze among the Holm oak trees. He shucks one and pops it in his mouth, testing it for sweetness to ensure the pigs are eating high-quality acorns.

“The acorn-fed pigs,” Mr. Jiménez Laguna says, “are the kings of the pastureland.”

Write to Jeannette Neumann at jeannette.neumann@wsj.com

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Like Peter Thiel, VCs Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley ‘Echo Chamber’

Westlake Legal Group like-peter-thiel-vcs-feel-alienated-by-silicon-valley-echo-chamber Like Peter Thiel, VCs Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley 'Echo Chamber' PAID

Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has said he plans to leave Silicon Valley in part because of its perceived cultural uniformity. He isn’t the only one.

Several tech workers and entrepreneurs also have said they left or plan to leave the San Francisco Bay Area because they feel people there are resistant to different social values and political ideologies. Groupthink and homogeneity are making it a worse place to live and work, these workers said.

“I think the politics of San Francisco have gotten a little bit crazy,” said Tom McInerney, an angel investor who moved a decade ago to Los Angeles from the Bay Area.

“The Trump election was super polarizing and it definitely illustrated—and Peter [Thiel] said this—how out of touch Silicon Valley was,” said Mr. McInerney, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.

Tim Ferriss, the tech investor and best-selling author of the “4 Hour Workweek,” moved to Austin, Texas, in December, after living in the Bay Area for 17 years, partly because he because he felt people there penalized anyone who didn’t conform to a hyper liberal credo.

People in Silicon Valley “openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified,” said Mr. Ferriss in a recent discussion on Reddit.

Mr. Ferriss, who describes himself as socially liberal, said during the discussion that he found that Austin has a “a wonderful exploding scene of art, music, film, tech, food, and more,” adding that “the people are also—in general—much friendlier.”

Proponents of Silicon Valley point to its rich history as a hotbed of entrepreneurism teeming with new ideas, a region that has spawned some of the world’s biggest companies. Tech leaders have a unique brand of politics, they say, typically favoring globalization, free trade and immigration, while also generally supporting capitalism and opposing labor unions and government regulation.

“Nowhere but Silicon Valley is there as much of an intensity and variety of creation and development going on,” said Aydin Senkut, a startup investor at Felicis Ventures. “I think it’s up to you as an individual to not be limited to the echo chamber in Silicon Valley.” Mr. Senkut says he seeks out friends in art and other industries beyond tech, and his firm looks for investments outside of the Bay Area.

San Francisco

Washington, D.C.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Like Peter Thiel, Entrepreneurs Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley ‘Echo Chamber’

Westlake Legal Group like-peter-thiel-entrepreneurs-feel-alienated-by-silicon-valley-echo-chamber Like Peter Thiel, Entrepreneurs Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley 'Echo Chamber' PAID

Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has said he plans to leave Silicon Valley in part because of its perceived cultural uniformity. He isn’t the only one.

Several tech workers and entrepreneurs also have said they left or plan to leave the San Francisco Bay Area because they feel people there are resistant to different social values and political ideologies. Groupthink and homogeneity are making it a worse place to live and work, these workers said.

“I think the politics of San Francisco have gotten a little bit crazy,” said Tom McInerney, an angel investor who moved a decade ago to Los Angeles from the Bay Area.

“The Trump election was super polarizing and it definitely illustrated—and Peter [Thiel] said this—how out of touch Silicon Valley was,” said Mr. McInerney, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.

Tim Ferriss, the tech investor and best-selling author of the “4 Hour Workweek,” moved to Austin, Texas, in December, after living in the Bay Area for 17 years, partly because he because he felt people there penalized anyone who didn’t conform to a hyper liberal credo.

People in Silicon Valley “openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified,” said Mr. Ferriss in a recent discussion on Reddit.

Mr. Ferriss, who describes himself as socially liberal, said during the discussion that he found that Austin has a “a wonderful exploding scene of art, music, film, tech, food, and more,” adding that “the people are also—in general—much friendlier.”

Proponents of Silicon Valley point to its rich history as a hotbed of entrepreneurism teeming with new ideas, a region that has spawned some of the world’s biggest companies. Tech leaders have a unique brand of politics, they say, typically favoring globalization, free trade and immigration, while also generally supporting capitalism and opposing labor unions and government regulation.

“Nowhere but Silicon Valley is there as much of an intensity and variety of creation and development going on,” said Aydin Senkut, a startup investor at Felicis Ventures. “I think it’s up to you as an individual to not be limited to the echo chamber in Silicon Valley.” Mr. Senkut says he seeks out friends in art and other industries beyond tech, and his firm looks for investments outside of the Bay Area.

San Francisco

Washington, D.C.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

For Tech Giants, Halting Russian Meddling Isn’t Easy

Westlake Legal Group for-tech-giants-halting-russian-meddling-isnt-easy For Tech Giants, Halting Russian Meddling Isn't Easy PAID

The U.S. indictment handed down against three Russian companies and 13 individuals shows starkly how ill-prepared the tech giants were for the type of aggressive influence campaign the Russians allegedly mounted.

The details also suggest it won’t be easy to stop such tactics in the run-up to the midterm election in less than nine months, say researchers who study social media.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Novartis CEO Steers Drug Maker Back to R&D

Westlake Legal Group novartis-ceo-steers-drug-maker-back-to-rd Novartis CEO Steers Drug Maker Back to R&D PAID

Novartis AG NVS 0.27% has spent the past five years getting smaller. Its new chief executive has to decide soon how much more it will shrink.

Vasant Narasimhan, a 41-year-old Harvard-trained doctor, took the helm earlier this month at Novartis, the world’s No. 2 prescription-drug firm by sales after Pfizer Inc. Dr. Narasimhan has promised a technological revolution at Novartis to boost its drug-development pipeline. He inherits an empire that his predecessor spent most of his tenure pruning to focus more on its bread and butter—finding and developing new prescription drugs.

“We need to become a focused medicines company that’s powered by data science and digital technologies,” Dr. Narasimhan said in a recent interview.

Amid his larger ambitions for using new technology to boost a drugs push, Dr. Narasimhan faces looming decisions on whether to sell two big units: Novartis has said it would decide within 18 months whether to spin off its Alcon eyecare business, and it is reviewing the U.S. arm of its Sandoz generics business.

“Timing Alcon’s spinoff right and dealing with Sandoz could become a big headache for the new CEO and distract some of his attention from R&D,” UBS analyst Michael Leuchten said.

Dr. Narasimhan, an Indian-born U.S. citizen, joined Novartis in 2005 from consultancy McKinsey & Co., rose quickly through the Swiss drugmaker’s ranks and ultimately ran its prized research-and-development arm.

Now, as CEO, he is pushing a series of tech-based initiatives he says could jump-start the company’s drug pipeline. He wants to introduce artificial-intelligence to find new biomarkers, molecules that can help identify patients most likely to respond to a specific treatment and speed up clinical trials. Novartis also is working on devices including wearable sensors to capture real-time data during drug trials: New sensor technology it developed with Microsoft Corp. , for example, would help it monitor multiple-sclerosis symptoms in trials.

But before devoting his full attention to those initiatives, Dr. Narasimhan has to decide what to do about Alcon and Sandoz.

Novartis bought Alcon in two transactions starting 10 years ago for a total of more than $50 billion, and it has been a big disappointment—until recently. Sales growth has picked up, making any decision to shed the unit a much tougher call.

Dr. Narasimhan also is struggling with the Sandoz generics unit in the U.S. It has been a reliable money-spinner, but fourth-quarter revenue tumbled 17% in the U.S. last year, reflecting pricing weakness in generic drugs and raising questions about whether Novartis will part ways with the unit.

While Novartis has said it would continue to invest in Sandoz’s unit for biosimilar drugs—near-replicas of biologic drugs, which are made using living cells—it will need to take hard look at the rest of its portfolio in the U.S.

“We have to ask ourselves how we want to shape our U.S. presence in the future,” Dr. Narasimhan said. “It’s going to take some time for us to assess and come up with the right answer.”

Over the past decade, drug makers like Novartis, U.S. rival Pfizer and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline PLC have invested billions of dollars diversifying into businesses like consumer health care—think toothpaste, pain killers—and vaccines, to help mitigate the loss of patent protection on some of their biggest-selling medicines.

Now, as some of these giants work their way through the bulk of those expirations, they are reversing course and refocusing again on high-risk, but high-margin, prescription drugs: Pfizer is selling its giant consumer health care business, and Glaxo, under its own new, young CEO, has promised to double down on the R&D pipeline.

Novartis says 2017 was a “landmark year for innovation.” It received 16 approvals for new drugs or for new indications for existing products—and it will be able to maintain that pace in 2018, a company spokesman said.

It falls to Dr. Narasimhan to keep the momentum going. He succeeds Joseph Jimenez, who as CEO dismantled the sprawling drug and health-care giant his predecessor had built. In 2014, he sold Novartis’s animal health unit. He spun off its consumer health-care business into an independent joint-venture and sold the company’s vaccine unit in 2015.

The down-sizing affected sales, shrinking them almost by a fifth over the past five years. Novartis stock has underperformed that peers, rising 41% over Mr. Jimenez’s eight-year tenure, compared with a rise of 130% over the same period for the S&P Global 1200 Health Care Index.

Last month, Novartis reported annual sales rose 1% for 2017—its first revenue increase in three years.

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at noemie.bisserbe@wsj.com

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/