Takeda Pharmaceutical Co has chosen Christophe Weber, head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, as its new chief operating officer and "candidate as the next CEO" of the Japan-headquartered group.

Mr Weber, who is also currently in charge of GSK Biologicals, will take up the COO post by April 2014 at the same time as Takeda CEO Yasuchika Hasegawa  also becomes chairman. He said of the new man that "we have extremely high expectations for Mr Weber's contributions to further enhance and accelerate the implementation of Takeda's global strategy based on his extraordinary and broad business experiences".

What has caught the eye about the announcement is that Mr Weber, who has been at GSK since January 1993, has been lined up as the first non-Japanese to lead Takeda, as Mr Hasegawa is expected to hand over the CEO reins in 2015. Speaking to Bloomberg, the latter said "we considered the rights and wrongs and internal response of appointing a foreigner to head a company that greatly respects tradition".

He went on to say that Mr Weber "resonates with our philosophy. He’s dynamic, yet has sensitivity. I’m confident he’ll lead Takeda’s globalisation while following its good traditions". Mr Hasegawa concluded by saying that "we set the bar high and looked internally and externally…we need global talent in key positions to compete globally".