Novartis announces changes to the Executive Committee

  • Felix R. Ehrat, Group General Counsel, will retire on June 1, 2018
  • Shannon Thyme Klinger appointed to Group General Counsel
  • Robert Weltevreden appointed Head of Novartis Business Services

Basel, May 16, 2018 - Novartis announced today that Felix R. Ehrat, Group General Counsel of Novartis, has decided to retire from the company. Shannon Thyme Klinger, currently Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer, will be appointed Group General Counsel, effective June 1, 2018.

Mr. Ehrat, who has been Group General Counsel and Member of the Executive Committee of Novartis since 2011, has decided to retire from his position in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis’ former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen.

Mr. Ehrat said: "Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error. As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end."

The Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of Novartis have the greatest respect for Mr. Ehrat’s decision to step down. Jörg Reinhardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors said: "I appreciate Felix’s decision even as we regret his departure. We thank him for his contributions to the company as General Counsel."

Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis said: "During his term as Group General Counsel, Felix was instrumental in further developing the global Legal Department of Novartis, and he played a key role in the Executive Committee with his proven expertise. Furthermore, he was a dedicated representative of the company’s interests in important national organizations such as economiesuisse, SwissHoldings and Avenir Suisse. The Novartis leadership owes him considerable thanks for his many contributions and wishes him all the best in his future endeavors."

Shannon Thyme Klinger is currently Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer. She became Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and Global Head of Litigation in 2016 and joined the Novartis Executive Committee earlier this year. Ms. Klinger joined Novartis in 2011, as General Counsel, North America, Sandoz US. She was then appointed Global Head Legal and General Counsel for Sandoz. Ms. Klinger holds a JD with Honors from the University of North Carolina  at Chapel Hill. Before joining Novartis, Ms. Klinger was a litigation partner at Mayer Brown LLP and Alston & Bird LLP and was Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Vas Narasimhan said: "Shannon has a proven track record as a strong thought leader with a commitment to ethics and integrity. She is an experienced and gifted lawyer who’s already made tremendous contributions to the company. She brings the combination of private practice and industry experience in Europe and the US that we need, and I have no doubt that the company will benefit from her judgment and expertise."

Natacha Theytaz, Global Head Internal Audit will lead the Ethics, Risk and Compliance organization ad interim. Ms. Theytaz will join Novartis from Roche, effective June 1, 2018 as already announced internally by Novartis in January 2018.

In addition, Novartis announced today that Robert Weltevreden, previously Head of Business Services for Syngenta will be appointed as Head of Novartis Business Services (NBS). He will report to Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis and  become a member of the Executive Committee of Novartis (ECN). He will join Novartis on June 1, 2018 and will be based in Basel.

At Syngenta, Robert Weltevreden led a business services organization of a similar scope to NBS; including areas such as finance operations, human resources operations, information technology, real estate and facility and fleet management, as well as business process, data and project management. Before that he had roles leading Business Process Management and global Finance Operations for Syngenta. He holds a Masters Degree in International Finance, Economics and Business Administration from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and an MBA in Financial Management from the Vlerick School for Management, Ghent, Belgium.

"Robert’s deep understanding of business services coupled with his strong financial and commercial acumen make him the right person to lead Novartis Business Services (NBS) in the next stage of its evolution," said Vas Narasimhan. "Over the coming years he will play a critical role in driving even higher levels of productivity and process standardization across Novartis. I am confident that under his leadership our NBS team will be able to unlock even greater value for us to reinvest in innovation and our exciting product pipeline."

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