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Ian Read steps down as Pfizer CEO

Published on: 04/10/18

Ian Read is set to step down from his position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American pharma firm Pfizer, having led the company for the past eight years.

In handing the reins to Pfizer veteran Albert Bourla, who was elected unanimously by the pharma giant’s board of directors, the Scottish-born CEO suggested that “now is the right time for a leadership change.”

“It’s been an honour to serve as Pfizer’s CEO for the past eight years,” Read said. “However, now is the right time for a leadership change, and Albert is the right person to guide Pfizer through the coming era. Albert is an energizing leader who has an unwavering commitment to serving patients. With 25 years at Pfizer, he has developed an extensive knowledge of the industry and demonstrated an ability to build and grow businesses. With Albert at the helm, our dedicated colleagues across the globe are poised to deliver the next stage of growth. I look forward to working with Albert and the Board to continue serving patients and delivering value for shareholders.”

The position will be taken over by current Chief Operating Officer (COO) Bourla, who will assume his new role on January 1st 2019. Meanwhile Read will transition into his new position as Executive Chairman of Pizer’s board of directors.

“I am humbled and privileged to be the next CEO of Pfizer, and I appreciate the confidence that both Ian and the Board of Directors have placed in me. I also want to thank Ian for his constant support, and am fortunate to have him as both a mentor and friend. I welcome Ian’s continuing contributions as Executive Chairman.”

Since joining the company in 2010 the Imperial College London graduate has overseen 30 FDA approvals, a 70% increase in annual dividends, and total shareholder return of 250%.

However, having joined Pfizer as the firm was hit by the expiry of the patents on both Viagra, and the world’s best-selling drug Lipitor; Read persevered through a turbulent period for the US drugmaker, during which the company experienced $27 billion in lost sales.

Nevertheless the Pfizer chief received a 61% pay rise last year in agreement for staying on at the company until March. The boost saw his total pay package come in at $27.9 million, making him one of the highest paid execs in the whole of the pharmaceutical industry.

Shantanu Narayen, Lead Independent Director of Pfizer’s Board of Directors, commented: “On behalf of the Board of the Directors, I want to thank Ian for his remarkable leadership as CEO. During an extraordinary period for the company, he successfully managed through $23 billion of lost revenue due to product losses of exclusivity, while at the same time driving strong and consistent financial performance and investing for the future. Consequently, Pfizer now has a pipeline that we believe is as deep and strong as ever. In addition, Ian has built a unique ownership culture that increased accountability and encouraged collaboration. As such, the company is now better positioned for success”

He added that “Today’s leadership announcement is part of a thoughtful, multi-year succession planning process”

Pfizer shares were up 0.4% in pre-market trade in New York on Monday morning after closing on a 17 year high. 

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