Chris Viehbacher has moved into his new office having taken over as chief executive of Sanofi-Aventis from Gerard Le Fur and analysts have been queuing up to give their views on the direction he will take the French drugmaker.

The arrival of Mr Viehbacher from GlaxoSmithKline, where he lost out in the three-horse race to Andrew Witty in the battle to replace Jean-Pierre Garnier as CEO, has led to much speculation about changes at the Paris-headquartered pharmaceutical giant. Fears have been voiced that Sanofi’s pipeline is not strong enough to cope with looming patent expiries on Plavix (clopidogrel), Lovenox (enoxaparin) and Taxotere (docetaxel) and the suspension of obesity drug Acomplia (rimonabant) has done little to allay those fears.

The fact that Sanofi pressed on with trials of Acomplia as a potential diabetes treatments after a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee had issued a damning verdict on the drug over its side effect profile has led observers to suggest that a shake-up of R&D will be a priority under Mr Viehbacher. Improving productivity is seen as a must by analysts who have noted that Sanofi runs 30 R&D sites, a lot more than its peers.

The choice of a non-Frenchman to run the company is also being seen as significant. Marc Booty at Pictet Asset Management told Bloomberg that bringing in a non-native “with no axe to grind from either the Sanofi or Aventis side shows there is a change of attitude”. He added the appointment of Mr Viehbacher “should create a shift in investor sentiment” and shows that Sanofi is “no longer going to be run as a national treasure but could be run as a lean and mean corporate.”

Bloomberg also reports that Mr Viehbacher has met with analysts and sales teams from at least one major investment bank to hear their views. Now the industry is waiting to hear what his own views are.