Perrigo CEO Steps Down; New CEO NamedBy
In keeping with a previously announced decision to divest its prescription (Rx) drug business and focus on consumer healthcare, Perrigo has appointed Murray S. Kessler, formerly Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Lorillard Tobacco Company, as President, CEO, and member of the Board of Directors. Uwe Roehrhoff stepped down as President and CEO, effective immediately with the company’s announcement on October 8, 2018.
“The Board and Uwe mutually agreed the transition was in the best interest of the Company and, given the previously announced separation of the Rx business, now is the appropriate time to make this change,” Chairman of the Board of Directors, Rolf Classon, said in an October 8, 2018 company statement. “The Board determined that Murray is the right CEO for Perrigo’s consumer-focused strategy going forward. We are thankful for Uwe’s leadership, including the decision to separate the Rx business.“
Roehrhoff was appointed as President and CEO in January 2018, following the retirement of John T. Hendrickson, the company’s previous CEO. As of October 8, 2018, Roehrhoff stepped down as President, CEO, and board member and will make himself available to help ensure a successful transition.
Earlier this year (August 2018), Perrigo announced plans to separate its Rx business and focus on consumer healthcare. The company’s decision to separate its Rx business followed continuing weak performance in the company’s Rx drug business, which consists primarily of generics and which accounted for approximately 20% of the company’s 2017 net sales of $5.28 billion. Its consumer healthcare business comprised 79% of 2017 net sales: 49% in the US, Canada, and Mexico and 30% in international markets. In 2017, net sales in the company’s Rx business declined $73.1 million, or 7%, to $969.7 million from $1.042.8 billion in 2016. A separation of the company’s Rx pharmaceutical business is currently expected to be completed during the second half of 2019, which may include a tax-efficient separation to shareholders, a sale, or merger.
“We are excited to have Murray Kessler, a highly successful business executive, join Perrigo as its next CEO,” Classon said in the company statement. “Given the decision to separate the Rx pharmaceuticals business and pursue a consumer-focused strategy, the Board is looking forward to partnering with him to develop Perrigo’s strategic plan. Murray joins Perrigo with more than 30 years of leadership experience in growing consumer products companies and managing businesses in a regulated environment.”
Kessler most recently served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Lorillard Tobacco Company (2010-2015). Kessler led the company’s expansion into new and emerging categories and oversaw Lorillard’s market capitalization rise from approximately $9 billion to approximately $28 billion during his tenure, according to information from Perrigo. Prior to joining Lorillard, Kessler served as Vice Chair of Altria, another tobacco company, and President and CEO of UST, a wholly owned subsidiary of Altria since 2009. Kessler originally joined UST in 2000 and was promoted to the role of President of the division within one year. In 2005, Kessler was appointed Chief Operating Officer of UST and served as CEO from 2007 to 2009. During his tenure, market capitalization grew from approximately $2.5 billion to approximately $12.7 billion. Before joining UST, Mr. Kessler had more than 18 years of consumer- packaged goods experience with several well-known consumer companies, including Vlasic Foods International, Campbell Soup Company and The Clorox Company.