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Meet the new CFOs at Pfizer and Moderna

April 12, 2022, 10:31 AM UTC

Good morning,

On the same day, two of the leading COVID-19 vaccine producers in the U.S.—Pfizer and Moderna—announced new CFOs. As the role of the finance chief continues to evolve, Pfizer mentioned strategic partnership. Meanwhile, Moderna pointed to a focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).  

David M. Denton, CFO and EVP at Lowe’s since 2018, was named the next CFO and EVP at Pfizer, effective May 2. Prior to his tenure at Lowe’s, Denton served as CFO and EVP at CVS Health. He helped guide the transformation of CVS from a retail pharmacy to a health solutions provider and led the full integration of Caremark into CVS, according to Pfizer’s announcement on Monday. 

David M. Denton, named CFO at Pfizer / Courtesy of Pfizer

Denton also negotiated the terms and financing for CVS’s acquisition of Aetna in December 2017. The $70 billion deal closed in November 2018. (You can read the full story about the transformation of CVS here.)

I had a conversation about the new CFO appointment with Matthew Kennedy, a senior strategist at Renaissance Capital, and asked his opinion. “Pfizer ended the year with $31 billion in cash and cash equivalents,” Kennedy explains. “They could issue a special dividend, but I think M&A seems far more likely.” Denton’s experience in M&A at CVS Health is “definitely something that board and CEO looked at on his CV for sure,” he says.

“Pfizer does have a patent cliff coming up over the next decade,” Kennedy says. “So, they’ll want to make sure the patent expirations don’t hit their revenue too hard.” He points out that last year the company bought Arena Pharmaceuticals for $7 billion. “I think we can expect that [M&A] to continue,” he says.

As the new finance chief, Denton succeeds Frank D’Amelio, CFO and EVP, who is retiring and has agreed to remain in place through a transition period, Pfizer announced. D’Amelio joined Pfizer in 2007. 

Denton will be a key thought partner to the company’s CEO and executive leadership team,” Pfizer said in the announcement. He is set to “deliver a comprehensive strategic financial vision,” Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Pfizer recorded almost $37 billion in revenue in 2021 from COVID vaccine sales (out of a total of $81.3 billion), Fortune reported. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a second booster of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in March. 

Interesting, Moderna also chose Monday to announce that Jorge Gomez will join the company as CFO, effective May 9. Current CFO David Meline has decided to retire and will remain at Moderna as a consultant to facilitate Gomez’s transition to the role. 

Jorge Gomez, named CFO at Moderna / Courtesy of Moderna

Gomez will serve on the biotech company’s executive committee and report to CEO Stéphane Bancel. “Jorge’s passion for sustainability and ESG aligns closely with Moderna’s vision to make corporate responsibility a critical part of who we are and what we do,” Bancel said in a statement. For example, Moderna announced in November its goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions globally by 2030.

Gomez has been CFO and EVP at Dentsply Sirona, Inc. (Nasdaq: XRAY), a dental equipment manufacturer, since August 2019. Along with finance duties, he was responsible for leading the company’s sustainability and ESG program. He also had stints at Cardinal Health, and GM.

In the year to come, Moderna could pursue M&A, “but I think R&D [research and development] is more likely,” Kennedy says. “Their technology has broad applicability.”

In 2021, Moderna earned $17.7 billion in sales from 807 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. The company announced on March 29 approval from the FDA to allow for a second booster dose of its vaccine (mRNA-1273) for adults ages 50 and older. 

Moderna also announced last month its vaccine works in babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The tech company is planning to ask regulators in the U.S. and Europe to authorize two small-dose shots for youngsters under age 6. 

“It is a privilege for me to join an organization that is focused on developing transformative medicines to address major public healthcare challenges worldwide,” Gomez said in a statement.

Although Denton and Gomez may take different approaches, their new paths share this commonality: “In both cases the CFO is taking the reins of a company that is flush with cash,” Kennedy says.


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

FlexJobs recently surveyed more than 2,200 workers in the U.S. to learn why they wanted to quit their jobs and how they planned to do it. About 30% of respondents said they are currently considering quitting, while 25% quit their job in the last six months. Of those who left their jobs, the top reason cited was toxic company culture (62%), followed by low salary (59%). And 68% quit without having another job lined up. As a result, many of these workers are using their emergency savings and working side jobs to make ends meet, according to FlexJobs.

Going deeper

An MIT report, Does this artificial intelligence think like a human?, discusses how researchers at MIT and IBM Research developed a method that helps a user understand a machine-learning model’s reasoning, and how that reasoning compares to that of a human.

Leaderboard

James Gruber was named CFO at Eton Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETON),  effective immediately. He succeeds Wilson Troutman, who is retiring. Troutman will remain with the company through the end of May. Gruber brings more than 20 years of financial and accounting experience to Eton. Most recently, he was the U.S. controller at Horizon Therapeutics for seven years. Prior to Horizon, Gruber spent 14 years at Abbott Laboratories where he held various financial and accounting leadership positions.

Adam Meister was named CFO at Clari, a revenue platform. Meister succeeds outgoing CFO Alyssa Filter. Meister brings with him nearly 20 years of financial leadership experience. He most recently served as CFO of Talend, a data integration and governance company. Prior to joining Talend in 2018, Meister spent over a decade in technology investment banking, most recently at Goldman Sachs, where he was a managing director specializing in the software industry.

Overheard

"If we are to recover from the Great Resignation, we must better understand the grief that provoked millions of Americans to quit their job. If employers want to retain or attract new workers, they must find ways to let their employees grieve, with a focus on solutions."

—Sherry Walling, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, writes in a Fortune opinion piece that losing loved ones during the pandemic, termed the "Great Grief," led to the "Great Resignation."

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