Novartis hires veteran Wall Street analyst Ronny Gal as chief M&A strategist

SWITZERLAND – Ronny Gal, Ph.D., a long-time Sanford Bernstein analyst, is set to join Novartis as chief strategy and growth officer, effective no later than August 1, the company has announced.

Gal has over 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry from the financial research side, including 17 years at Bernstein, and has provided some of the most insightful analyses of biopharma companies across a wide range of topics.

The savvy sell-side analyst will be in charge of Novartis’ corporate strategy, R&D portfolio optimization, and business development in his new role.

He is a thought leader in the healthcare sector and is widely recognized for his deep thematic research across therapeutic areas, technology platforms, and key industry topics such as the United States’ drug delivery system and efforts to reform it,” Novartis said of Gal in a statement.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan created a new position overseeing the company’s corporate strategy as part of a major reorganization.

Narasimhan described Gal as “one of the most seasoned and experienced analysts” of the biopharma sector.

The Swiss pharma hopes Gal’s knowledge of therapeutic areas, technology platforms, clinical development and U.S. market dynamics could help the company shape its overall strategy, prioritize its internal pipeline and drive external opportunities, the CEO said during a press call.

Gal will report directly to Narasimhan, who created the position of chief strategy and growth officer as part of a major organizational reorganization announced earlier this month.

At the time, Narasimhan emphasized the new role’s independence from Novartis’ R&D and commercial teams, from which he carved out the functions.

Novartis recently received US$20.7 billion in proceeds from the sale of its stake in Swiss rival Roche.

Following that, Novartis announced a plan to repurchase up to US$15 billion in stock by the end of 2023. However, the company still has extra cash on hand.

Biotech valuations have recently fallen, which could mean more M&A opportunities, according to Narasimhan during the press call. However, the science must support any transactions, according to the CEO.

He noted that many young biotechs that went public in recent years “may not have been mature enough with their science.

Furthermore, it may take some time before biotech value adjustments reach a level that justifies expectations, he added.

At the moment, Novartis’ M&A focus is on targets with a deal size of less than US$2 billion, according to Narasimhan.

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