Novo Nordisk CEO named world’s best

Lars Rebien Sørsensen's Scandinavian leadership style has propelled him to the absolute top of the global business world.

Novo Nordisk CEO named world's best
Lars Rebien Sørensen, the world's top CEO. Photo: Novo Nordisk
The world’s top-performing CEO is Novo Nordisk boss Lars Rebien Sørensen, according to a global ranking from the Harvard Business Review (HBR). 
The 2015 edition of the global CEO list saw Sørensen jump five spots from last year, when he was named the top CEO from outside of the United States
Sørensen has risen to the top of the rankings on the success of Novo Nordisk’s booming insulin business. The company’s net profit reached 26.48 billion kroner (3.55 billion euros, $4.04 billion) in 2014 as revenue grew six percent to 88.8 billion kroner. 
Nearly 400 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes and Novo Nordisk controls 47 percent global market for insulin products. 
The company has performed particularly well on the North American market, which accounted for 61 percent of Novo Nordisk’s growth last year. That growth should be further boosted after the US Food and Drug Administration approved Novo Nordisk's obesity drug Saxenda
In an interview with HBR, Sørensen attributed the company’s success to sticking to its core business. 
“Outsiders sometimes come in and say, ‘You’re dependent on diabetes for 80 percent of your revenue—you should diversify.’ But I’ve always believed that you should do things that you know something about, that you’re good at. We’ve tried a lot of diversification strategies in the past, but we’ve failed because of the inherent scientific and commercial uncertainty and our own naïveté,” the world’s top CEO said. 
Sørensen has been with Novo Nordisk for 33 years and has been at the company’s helm for 15. He said that in that time he’s “been part of some of the most stupid mistakes”. The 61-year-old downplayed his spot on the top of the global rankings. 
“I don’t like this notion of the ‘best-performing CEO in the world’. That’s an American perspective—you lionize individuals. I would say I’m leading a team that is collectively creating one of the world’s best-performing companies,” he told HBR. 
Sørensen described his leadership style as “Scandinavian” and “consensus-oriented” but added that the six years he spent working in the US made him “slightly more aggressive than the typical Scandinavian business leader”. 
The Novo Nordisk head topped the HBR’s list in performance but was far behind most of the other entries in another metric: salary. 
“I saw that in last year’s list of best-performing CEOs, I was one of the lowest paid. My pay is a reflection of our company’s desire to have internal cohesion. When we make decisions, the employees should be part of the journey and should know they’re not just filling my pockets. And even though I’m one of the lowest-paid people in your whole cohort, I still earn more in a year than a blue-collar worker makes in his lifetime,” he said. 
Sørensen’s total compensation was 19.3 million kroner ($2.95 million, 2.59 million euros) in 2013, according to Bloomberg. 
Novo Nordisk announced in August that it would invest $2 billion in new facilities in the Copenhagen suburb of Måløv and in the US state of North Carolina.  The following month, the company said it would build a 70 million euro (522 million kroner, $78 million) facility in Iran, to signal its “long-term commitment” to the country. 


Novo Nordisk sees increased profits despite pandemic

Denmark's Novo Nordisk, the world's number one producer of insulin, on Wednesday reported an eight percent bump to net profits in 2020 despite the pandemic leading to a drop in new patients.

Novo Nordisk sees increased profits despite pandemic
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

In line with analysts' expectations, the company recorded an annual net profit of 42.1 billion Danish kroner (5.6 billion euros).

Revenue came in at 126.9 billion kroner, up four percent compared to a year earlier, not counting currency effects, driven by sales of GLP-1 products for treating diabetes.

According to Novo Nordisk, the company claimed 47.2 percent of the global market for insulin in November 2020, and 39.4 percent of the US market, which is the drugmaker's single largest market.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that there are over 425 million diabetics in the world, a number expected to top 629 million by 2045 as changing diets and lifestyles provoke the condition whereby the effectiveness of naturally produced insulin is reduced and people cannot convert sugar in their bloodstream for use as energy, causing health problems such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.

However, only half of people with diabetes are currently diagnosed and of those only half are receiving treatment, according to the IDF, which says an estimated four million people die from the disease and the health complications it causes every year.

The Covid-19 pandemic cut into the number of people receiving help, according to Novo Nordisk.

“During the period of social distancing implemented in many markets, fewer new patients are initiating treatment,” said the company.

Novo Nordisk also develops and markets treatments for haemophilia and growth disorders, where sales fell by four percent and increased by six percent respectively, not counting currency effects.

Sales of its anti-obesity medicines, mainly Saxenda, increased by three percent.

In 2021, Novo Nordisk expects sales to grow by five to nine percent and operating profit to increase by four to eight percent.

In the early hours of trading on the Copenhagen stock exchange, shares in Novo Nordisk were up 4.6 percent.

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