Pfizer names new CEO as Kindler retires suddenly

11:06, December 07, 2010      

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Pfizer Inc's chief executive has stepped down without warning, acknowledging the personal toll involved in steering the world's largest drugmaker through a multibillion-dollar merger.

The departure of Jeffrey Kindler, 55, comes more than a year after Pfizer completed the signature move of his tenure - the $67 billion acquisition of rival Wyeth. His departure comes before the company confronts the US patent expiration of its top-selling Lipitor cholesterol medicine expected in November.

Kindler said he was leaving to "recharge batteries" after nearly five years on the job. He is being replaced by the global head of pharmaceuticals, Ian Read, Pfizer said Sunday.

"The combination of meeting the requirements of our many stakeholders around the world, and the 24/7 nature of my responsibilities, has made this period extremely demanding on me, personally," Kindler said in a statement.

Les Funtleyder, portfolio manager of the Miller Tabak Healthcare Transformation Fund, said it was unusual for a CEO to resign citing fatigue.

"I'd have liked a little more notice, and a little more orderly process," said Funtleyder, who does not hold Pfizer shares. "The suddenness of the announcement will make many people think there may be something more here."

Funtleyder said Kindler's resignation may be more connected to Pfizer's poor stock price performance, noting that investors have shown far more enthusiasm about Merck &Co's purchase of Schering- Plough.

Indeed, Pfizer's abrupt management change comes in stark contrast with Merck, which said last week that President Ken Frazier would succeed Richard Clark as CEO in a long-telegraphed and expected move.

Since July 2006, when Kindler became CEO, Pfizer shares have fallen 27 percent, compared with a 10 percent decline for the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical index of large US and European drugmakers.

Source: Global Times


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