Expect more M&A as Gilead names Dickinson as finance chief, say analysts

Gilead Sciences has named head of corporate development and strategy Andrew Dickinson as its new chief financial officer in a move that could herald a renewed M&A push at the company.

Dickinson’s appointment to the role brings the recruitment of top management at Gilead by new chief executive Daniel O’Day to a close, after a busy few months of hiring, firing and creating new positions.

He replaces Robin Washington, who announced his intention to retire earlier this year but will remain at the company until the 2019 financial results are compiled early next year, to ensure a smooth handover.

The new CFO has been with Gilead since 2016, after holding positions at Lazard and Myogen, which Gilead acquired in 2016.

Since that time he has been involved in the company’s $11.9 billion takeover of cell therapy specialist Kite Pharma in 2017, as well as the pipeline-swelling, $5.1 billion R&D alliance with Galapagos earlier this year.

O’Day credits Dickinson with introducing a “broader and more strategic approach to deal-making”, and there is already speculation that his elevation to the top finance job means that Gilead will continue to seek out new deals.

Facing the decline of its hepatitis C virus franchise and greater competition in HIV drugs, Gilead has been diversifying into new therapeutic categories, including cancer, inflammatory diseases and other liver disorders like hepatitis B and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Analysts say Dickinson is the type of CFO who will push for further deals to build a presence in its target areas, particularly as Gilead ended the first half with ample cash reserves of around $30 billion.

The shake-up that followed O’Day’s appointment as CEO of Gilead included the departure of chief scientific officer and head of R&D John McHutchison after a short period in the role, with ex-Genentech executive Merdad Parsey coming on board as chief medical officer earlier this month.

Other moves include the appointment of former Bristol-Myers Squibb executive Johanna Mercier as Gilead’s chief commercial officer, and the resignation of oncology head Alessandro Riva in order to take the CEO role at Glenmark Pharma.

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