Management Turnover as Change Agent

Monday, December 6, 2010

Against the Grain - Pfizer CEO Resigns Unexpectedly

Jeffrey Kindler, Pfizer’s PFE (NYSE) CEO for the last four years, announced his resignation on Sunday. The firm announced that Kindler would be replaced with longtime employee and executive, Ian C. Read. Kindler’s weekend resignation announcement has been interpreted by many as an ouster. Pfizer has been languishing for sometime under Kindler’s tutelage. This has all been happening while many of the other big pharma companies have been doing quite well. Despite a major reorganization and tremendous acquisitions (2009 acquisition of Wyeth Drugs) while in charJeffrey Kindlerge, Kindler, a lawyer by trade with a focus on sales, has found himself under pressure from shareholders and apparently the board. While in charge, Kindler saw a number of research related failures with regard to potential blockbuster drugs and has been in charge asIan C. Read major patented drugs will see their protection expire shortly, e.g., Lipitor.According to the company’s press release Kindler was quoted on the change as follows,

My nearly nine years at Pfizer and, particularly the last four and a half as CEO, have been extremely exciting and rewarding. I feel our team can proudly boast of some transformational accomplishments. However, 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. Now that we are about to complete a full year of operating Pfizer and Wyeth together, with our world-class team fully in place, I have concluded the time is right to turn the leadership of the company over to Ian Read. Ian is an outstanding and experienced pharmaceutical executive who I know will make the next phase of the company’s future a successful one. He is more than ready to take on these responsibilities and I am excited at the opportunity to recharge my batteries, spend some rare time with my family, and prepare for the next challenge in my career.One year stock performance of Pfizer

The sudden change at Pfizer seems to make a great deal of sense. The appointment of Read, an in-house executive with vast experience, is the right type of change for such a large company that needs to get back down to basics on all its different business fronts. Keep a close eye on the firm as we move forward. Read is already in charge.

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