Dirk Oldenburg has been general counsel for the junior party in two of the largest pharmaceutical mergers of recent years. Both times he has emerged with the top legal job. And this despite being based in Germany, well away from the centre of power in two French acquisitions.
Oldenburg was appointed head of legal at German pharmaceutical company Hoechst in 1998. When Hoechst merged with French company Rhone-Poulenc to create Aventis, Oldenburg was named general counsel.
Last year, when Aventis was acquired by Sanofi-Synthelabo, another leading pharmaceutical company with its operational head office in France, Oldenburg again emerged triumphant. He is known for his shrewd business brain – and he will need it as he guides Sanofi-Aventis through its integration period. But he has managed one cross-border merger, and the betting is that he will do so again.