Novartis promotes pair to top U.S. posts

NEW YORK, April 10 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG NOVN.VXNVS.N on Thursday said it promoted two senior U.S. executives to head its U.S. drugs unit and overall U.S. operations.

The head of Novartis’ specialty medicines unit in the United States, Ludwig Hantson, has been promoted to chief executive of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp, the company’s North American drugs affiliate, the drugmaker said.

Hantson's promotion was announced to employees on Wednesday, the company said. He succeeds Alex Gorsky, who in February resigned to become chairman of the Ethicon surgical products division of Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N.

Hantson, 45, has previously run Novartis’ pharmaceutical operations in Canada and has been a senior company executive in Europe.

Before joining Novartis in 2001, he spent 13 years as a senior executive for clinical development and marketing at the Jannsen pharmaceuticals unit of J&J, said Novartis spokeswoman Brandi Robinson.

Robinson said Gary Rosenthal, who most recently had served as chief financial officer of the company’s North American drugs unit, on Wednesday was named president and chief executive of Novartis Corp, the company’s North American corporate entity.

He succeeds Paulo Costa, who is slated to retire in late June, Robinson said.

The promotions of Hantson and Rosenthal follow the appointment in October of Joseph Jimenez as global chief of the company’s pharmaceuticals operations. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)