Alnylam Names Former Sanofi Manager as Chief Business Officer

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. named David-Alexandre Gros, formerly Sanofi’s head of strategy, as chief business officer to help the U.S. maker of treatments for rare genetic diseases bring its first products to market.

Gros will be responsible for Alnylam’s corporate and business development, finance, corporate communications and investor relations, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said in an e-mailed statement. The executive, known as DA, starts today and will also sit on Alnylam’s management board.

Alnylam began a search to fill the position in January and “we were very pleased to find out that DA was interested, ” Chief Executive Officer John Maraganore said in a telephone interview. “DA was a very critical person at Sanofi for many years, he is somebody who understands the biotech sector extremely well.”

Gros joined Paris-based Sanofi in 2011, hired by former Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher. The 42-year-old executive, a physician and previously an investment banker at Centerview Partners, left Sanofi six months after Viehbacher’s ouster last October. At the French company, he oversaw the execution of more than 100 transactions as well as the launch of Sanofi’s corporate venture activities. He helped forge closer ties with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and was involved in Sanofi’s purchase of a stake in Alnylam.

Deals Ahead

Gros said in an interview that he plans to help Alnylam with the “transition from a late-stage clinical development company to a commercial stage company that will have both multiple products as well as a sustainable pipeline.”

Sanofi paid $700 million in January 2014 for a 12 percent stake in Alnylam and access to treatments targeting RNA, the molecules that translate DNA code to make proteins. Alnylam’s technology, called RNA interference, aims to silence the production of problematic proteins, keeping them from being created.

Alnylam aspires “to be among the top five” U.S. biotechnology companies over the next five to six years, according to CEO Maraganore.

Gros will “play a critical role in future deal-making,” for example partnering programs outside of the alliance with Sanofi’s Genzyme unit and also leading an effort, “as we mature more, to consider in-licensing and also potentially M&A,” he said.

Alnylam may look for acquisitions of small companies or in-licensing of assets from larger companies in a few years, Maraganore said. In the near term, it may seek additional strategic partners for some cardio-metabolic and hepatic infectious disease programs, he said.

Alnylam shares have almost doubled in the past year, giving the company a market value of about $11 billion.

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