The head of French group Sanofi-Aventis, Jean-Francois Dehecq, has chosen a successor to take over the reigns of the world’s third largest drugmaker on his scheduled retirement in 2008, he said during an interview with the Financial Times. No one from the company was available to comment at the time PharmaTimes News Online was going to press.

Although the identity of Mr Dehecq’s replacement, which has been approved by Sanofi’s board of directors, remains a closely-guarded secret, it seems most likely to be one three top executives: Hanspeter Speck, head of pharmaceutical operations; Jean-Claude Leroy, head of finance; and Gerard Le Fur, head of research, who all support his modus operandi and share his future vision for the firm, he indicated to the FT.

What is certain, however, is that whoever fills Mr Dehecq’s shoes will be subject to intense scrutiny from industry observers, given that, for the last 30 years, he has pushed through several, often unpopular moves, such as the $65-billion acquisition of Franco-German group Aventis last year [[23/08/04c]], to shape the business into how it stands today.