CSL's Naylor to head flu vaccine unit

CSL's CFO Gordon Naylor's role as head of its influenza vaccines business may set him up to take over from CEO Paul Perreault – eventually.

Typically the only new role of interest to a company’s chief financial officer would be the chief executive role, so it’s interesting to see CSL’s (ASX: CSL) CFO Gordon Naylor hanging up his calculator to head up the company’s new global influenza vaccine business.

The business will be created by the merger of CSL’s existing vaccines subsidiary, bioCSL, with an influenza vaccine business which CSL has agreed to buy from Novartis (NYSE: NVS) for US$275m last October. The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals, but is expected to complete in December 2015.

Naylor has been with CSL since 1987 and held a number of operational roles (including helping with the integration of CSL Plasma with Aventis Behring) before landing the CFO job in 2010. He’s also had ‘executive management responsibility’ for bioCSL since 2012 and, with the expansion now making the combined role too big, it looks like book-keeping just doesn’t offer the same thrills as hands-on operational management of a global pharmaceutical business.

Who can blame him. The move also demonstrates the importance CSL places on the business – and lines Naylor (age 51) up to eventually take over from Paul Perreault (age 57), who took CSL’s group CEO job in July 2013. If Perreault is in the job for anything like the 23 years served by his predecessor Brian McNamee, though, then Naylor will have a long wait.

Great businesses nurture their internal talent, so it’s great to see CSL doing just that. It’s been a great investment for Intelligent Investor members too, almost tripling since we first recommended it five years ago. Members might also be interested in the two-part write-up of our recent trip to CSL Plasma’s operations in the US.

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