As part of our January Game Changers feature, this month CEO Today had the privilege to catch up with Renaud Dehareng – the CEO of the world’s largest global nuclear medicine company – Curium. Since becoming CEO in 2012, he has focused on developing Curium from a small European loss-making company into a successful global leader in nuclear medicine. He is now leveraging Curium’s unique global infrastructure to serve its nuclear medicine clients with an emphasis on compliance, service reliability, operational excellence, and new product development. Today Curium helps more than 35,000 patients every day, with activities in more than 60 countries and a team of over 1,600 members worldwide. Here Mr. Dehareng tells us about his work for Curium and their vision and goals for the future.
Tell us a bit about your career prior to joining Curium Pharma as the company’s CEO?
I joined the predecessor company of Curium back in 2012 as the CEO – I took over the leadership of IBA Molecular from the IBA Group, which was a stock quoted company in Belgium and a loss-making company in nuclear medicine at the time. Then with SK Capital we gradually focused on conforming and turning around that company and ultimately sold it after three years of successful financial performance to another private equity firm called CapVest, based in London, with the intention to further consolidate IBA Molecular with one of its main competitors in the industry: Mallinckrodt Nuclear Medicine LLC. With CapVest, we took over Mallinckrodt within a few months, merged it with IBA Molecular to form Curium, and we are now by far the biggest leader in Nuclear Medicine in the world. Prior to that, I was heading the European Division of the IBA Group for a couple of years.
How would you evaluate your role and its impact over the last year or so?
My role started with taking over a loss-making unit back in 2012, and the first step of this transformation, to which I was leading, was to carve it out, structure it as a standalone business, make it efficient and focus on a commercial plan to stabilise and grow the pipeline at prices that would allow the company to become profitable in our journey. The first three and a half years were really about structuring it as a standalone business, making it efficient from all over the company, and then putting together a commercial plan that allowed us to start seeing sustainability with existing products.
The private equity that owned IBA Molecular realised their equity gain due to the aforementioned transformation which had created substantial financial value. Thus, we ran the same process and sold IBA Molecular to another private equity firm called CapVest. At the time, I was looking for a new shareholder that could take us to the next step and further consolidate the position of IBA Molecular within nuclear medicine. CapVest was interested in taking over IBA Molecular with a strong vision of nuclear medicine and the financial means to run very aggressive and ambitious M&A activities.
This was in 2015, whereby my role in that sale was to make sure that we could sell the company at the value expected by SK Capital and identify and choose the right shareholder to allow IBA Molecular to progress. With CapVest, within a few weeks, we identified a number of targets from an M&A standpoint, one of which was four times bigger than us. There was another company called Mallinckrodt, which we acquired within three months to combine with IBA Molecular and form Curium. On top of this and within a few months of the CapVest acquisition, we made three or four other smaller acquisitions to shape the biggest global leader in nuclear medicine. My role in these acquisitions was to drive the negotiations, realise and close those deals, and then integrate the group together.
What we ended up creating is a group with four different strategic advantages, when compared to our competitors. Firstly, we are much bigger, which means that we can extract academies of skills and therefore be more efficient. Secondly, with our presence in 60 countries, we are more global and have reached into some of the most attractive farmer markets in the world in order to supply, deliver and distribute into them. Lastly, we are vertically integrated and are owning all of the supply chain. The chemical skills, the physical skills, the engineering skills and so on aid us in clearly outperforming the competitors of our size, whilst the global reach, vertical integration, experience and learning curve give us a clear advantage.
Put simply, our four steps of development were: to make the company efficient, profitable, and sustainable in growth; to consolidate IBA Molecular with Mallinckrodt, as well as two to three other companies and form a group and then to use the advantages of the merge and continue the consolidation of the industry, whilst focusing on launching a new product in the next two years. Step four is to continue building Curium as an integration platform within healthcare. Our goal is to continue buying licensed products and grow Curium, with the potential of getting outside of nuclear medicine.
What is your acquisition strategy for the future?
In the short term, we identify a number of targets within nuclear medicine that we can still further consolidate to create short and long-term synergies. We are looking at a number of targets within our key criteria, ranging from tens of millions to billions in value.
As CEO, how do you ensure you are directing the company in the correct direction? How do you advise your team to make the correct decisions for the company alongside clients?
Considering our very ambitious development agenda, it’s critical that everyone is focused and that our priorities as an organisation are clear. In that sense, the setup of an internal strategy department has been extremely helpful, because it helps me to focus on the long-term development plan and make sure everyone’s short-term vision for getting there is clear and prioritised. I think the danger with such an ambitious plan is the possibility of getting diverted from what is important: thus, remembering and refocusing the team on their key priorities is critical. I have two roles in that: the first one is to make sure that every department has the best team in every function, and the second one is to make sure that our clear short-term focus and priorities align with our long-term development goals.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced CEO?
Two things were useful in the development of Curium. One is a clear strategic vision and definition of what you want to achieve, because then you can start aligning the short-term steps behind that. However, if you don’t have a clear point of target in the long-term, your short-term focus may go into different directions, so once you have a clear long-term goal forward, everything starts to make sense and you can start steering people and objectives into the same direction. The second thing is to get a clear sense of what future you want to build for your company. Curium is driven by three values: commitment, integrity and collaboration, and those three values have been extremely helpful in guiding the leaders we have in our team and guiding the behaviour pattern of everyone in the company.
Thus, my two pieces of advice are to get your long-term goals very clear and to align your short-term priorities, whilst making sure the key element of your culture, which at the end of the day are your values, is clear.
Curium – the leader in nuclear medicine with a respected heritage
Curium is the world’s largest global nuclear medicine company, formed through the union in January 2017 of IBA Molecular and Mallinckrodt Nuclear Medicine LLC, two well-respected names in nuclear imaging. Together, we have been dedicated to serving the nuclear medicine industry since the 1960s, and this long and proven heritage provides the catalyst for our future growth opportunities.
Paying tribute to the pioneering spirit and radiation research performed by Marie and Pierre Curie, our name, Curium, also highlights the company’s focus on nuclear medicine, as we invest our efforts towards the growth of the nuclear medicine industry and its role in global healthcare.
Drawing from more than 100 years of combined experience, Curium specializes in the development, manufacture and distribution of radioactive tracers, which are used in molecular imaging and therapy to diagnose and treat diseases earlier and more accurately, including cancer, and heart, brain, and bone diseases. This helps to make medical treatment more effective, improving outcomes for patients and reducing the long-term cost of care.