TOKYO—Takeda Pharmaceutical has hired IBM's Jeff Cross as global communications director, as Asia's biggest drugmaker continues efforts to internationalise its brand.

Cross, who spent 25 years at IBM, has relocated to Tokyo to take on the newly-created role. He reports to Takeda corporate communications and public affairs officer Haruhiko Hirate and also supports president/COO Christophe Weber's efforts to transform Takeda into a global brand.

Those efforts have proved controversial. Last year, more than 100 former executives and shareholders questioned Takeda's appointment of non-Japanese to several senior positions.

Takeda has expanded beyond Japan to considerable effect in recent years, spending $20bn on acquisitions, including Swiss drugmaker Nycomed in 2011 and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a US biotech company, in 2008.

Accordingly, Cross has been recruited to globalise the company's communications function. He arrives at Takeda after 25 years at IBM, where he worked across numerous regions, including a four-year stint in Tokyo as Asia-Pacific VP of communications.

Cross also spent two years running communications for the Americas region, and helped create a center of excellence as IBM’s first COO for the global communications function, reporting to Jon Iwata. Most recently, Cross was global competitive communications leader and VP of external relations for IBM Systems.

Takeda expects to see a turnaround next year after declining revenues and profits in this fiscal year.