Goan billionaire, pharma achiever Saldanha, dies in Mumbai

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Frederick FN Noronha फ्रेड्रिक नोरोन्या *فريدريك نورونيا‎

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Jul 24, 2012, 2:11:56 PM7/24/12
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Goan billionaire, pharma achiever Saldanha, dies in Mumbai

SALIGAO: Gracias Saldanha, the Goan who traced his roots to the village of Saligao, and set up a multi-million buiness in the field of generic medicines, passed away on the weekend and was buried on Sunday.

Forbes.com selected Saldanha at No. 69 among the list of "Indian billionaires" in 2011.  It rated his net worth at US$805 million.

Forbes.com wrote about him: "Former marketing executive invested his pension to set up Glenmark in 1977.  Pharma outfit, run by son Glenn since 2001, makes generics and is investing in drug discovery."

It also noted that Glenmark's stock got a boost when it struck licensing deal with Sanofi in May for a new drug to treat multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease that could yield $610 million in milestone payments.  The company Saldanha founded has six such "first world" licensing arrangements.

Company secretary Marshall Mendonza, writing on Goanet, commented: "Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd, expired on 21st July 2012 and buried on 22nd July 2012.  He is survived by his wife Blanche, daughters Cheryl and Blossom and sons Glenn and Mark"

Glenmark has done philanthrophy work in Goa, but the contribution of Saldanha and his family in boosting Indian generic drugs has yet to be adequately recognised back home -- itself a State which has a pharma sector that has been growing steadily for some time now.

Another website Halhi.com called Saldanha "India's 38th richest billionare" and said the "reclusive billionaire" in his seventies set up "one of India's top pharmacy firms where he has clocked over four decades".

He bet big money on generic drugs and ensured he could find some new, stand-alone products.  He initiated a push towards acquisitions, including of companies as far away as in the Czech Republic, and was believed to have a fondness for art and a collector of antiques.

His son Glen, in his 40s, came back from a PricewaterhouseCoopers' job in the US to help build his father's business.

Saldanha made Glenmark public in 2000 and ploughed part of the money raised into an R&D centre at Mahape, in Navi Mumbai.

Halhi.com comments: "Taking charge as CEO in 2001, he led from the front -- visiting large R&D labs in India and abroad before setting up his own.  Initially, he led licensing negotiations with top western companies."

Glenmark's research is credited with having  ventured beyond 'me-too' compounds.  Glenmark's corporate headquarters are at GLenmark House in Sahar, Mumbai not far from the international airport.

Noting his death, the Mumbai tabloid Mid-Day also pointed out that the $790-million net worth Saldanha was a horse owner who "represented the now fast-disappearing breed of horse owners who enjoyed their racing, and an occasional punt, without compromising the integrity of the sport." 
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