Bayer has appointed ex-Novartis man Joerg Reinhardt to take over from Arthur Higgins as chief executive of its healthcare unit.

Dr Reinhardt, who left his post as chief operating officer at Novartis in January, having lost out to Joe Jimenez for the top job at the Swiss major, will become CEO of Bayer Healthcare on August 15. Until then, Marijn Dekkers, the firm’s designated new chairman (beginning October 1), will take over the unit on a temporary basis from May 1, the day Mr Higgins leaves “at his own request”.

Bayer’s chief executive Werner Wenning said that Dr Reinhardt is “an acknowledged expert with many years of experience in the healthcare industry”. He added that “we are convinced of his ability to provide a decisive impetus to our global healthcare business and further expand our strong competitive positions”.

Mr Wenning also paid tribute to Mr Higgins, saying that he has made “a decisive contribution to the restructuring and strengthening of Bayer HealthCare and has set new trends”. Where Mr Higgins, 54 years old and the ex-president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations moves onto will be of great interest to industry observers, and he has previously expressed an interest in the social aspects of healthcare.

Dr Reinhardt, who is also 54, is German, not a disadvantage by any means for Bayer management. At Novartis, he also served as CEO of the company’s vaccines and diagnostics division, based in the USA.