Novartis has announced that GlaxoSmithKline’s current vice president of classic and established products, commercial and digital platforms has joined the company as chief executive of its Sandoz unit.

The appointment of Richard Saynor has been announced after former Sandoz head Richard Francis stepped down in March amid the division's ongoing transformation.

Saynor currently oversees a $10 billion portfolio of established products at GlaxoSmithKline and also manages the commercial digital platforms across all of GlaxoSmithKline's pharmaceutical franchises.

Prior to joining the UK company, Saynor held a number of roles at Sandoz, overseeing an expansion of the generics business across Asia, Latin America and Turkey.

The idea is to transform Sandoz into an autonomous unit within the larger company, with Richard being the perfect person to steer the company in the digital direction that chief exectuvie Vas Narasimhan has in mind.

His appointment will be effective by August 1st at the latest, and will give Sandoz “the right capabilities and the right freedom to operate in order to be successful,” including divesting parts of its operations in the US to Aurobindo for $900 million.