Pfizer: A sudden change at the top
Pfizer Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Kindler resigned unexpectedly this week, citing the “extremely demanding” nature of his job, said Simon Kennedy and Sarah Turner in Marketwatch.com. Ian Read, 57, a 32-year veteran of the company who heads the drugmaker’s global biopharmaceutical operations, will succeed him. Kindler, 55, faced a daunting set of challenges when he became CEO in 2006, including “big changes to the health-care marketplace and the upcoming expiration of major patents, including blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor,” one of the world’s best-selling drugs. He spearheaded last year’s $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth “in part to compensate for Lipitor’s loss.”
The sudden announcement of Kindler’s departure—on a Sunday night, no less—“was suspicious,” said Linda Johnson in the Associated Press. Analysts say Pfizer’s board fielded complaints from institutional investors “frustrated” by Pfizer’s stock price, which is down some 30 percent since Kindler became CEO. “This is probably a wake-up call for every other CEO that thinks they can buy their way out of a problematic health-care market,” said Steve Brozak, an analyst with WBB Securities.
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E-business: Splitsville for Diller and Malone
The tumultuous partnership between IAC/InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller and media investor John Malone has come to an end, said Georg Szalai in HollywoodReporter.com. Malone’s Liberty Media has traded its 34 percent stake in IAC, a collection of e-commerce websites, for $220 million and exclusive ownership of two IAC websites, Evite and Gifts.com. The Diller-Malone partnership frayed badly in 2008, when Malone sued to block Diller from splitting IAC into five separate companies, “which Malone’s Liberty said was an effort to dilute its interest.” Diller prevailed, maintaining control of the five spin-offs.
Aviation: Qantas sues Rolls-Royce over engines
Australian airline Qantas has announced plans to sue jet-engine maker Rolls-Royce to recover the costs of grounding the airline’s six Airbus A380 jets, said Meraiah Foley and Nicola Clark in The New York Times. Qantas grounded the planes after a Nov. 4 incident in which a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded in midflight, ripping out wiring and hydraulic equipment from the plane’s fuselage and nearly causing the jumbo jet, with 469 aboard, to crash. No injuries were reported.
Consumer privacy: A ‘Don’t Track’ Web option?
Responding to growing consumer complaints over intrusive data-gathering by online advertisers, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed giving consumers the right to opt out of data tracking, said Byron Acohido in USA Today. The FTC wants to set up a Do Not Track mechanism similar to the Do Not Call list, which enables consumers to block marketers’ telephone calls. The technical fix required would be relatively easy and capable of being adapted to mobile devices. Online advertisers say they’ll resist the initiative.
Takeover: Groupon spurns Google
Groupon, a fast-growing website that provides daily discount coupons to its 35 million members in 300 cities, has rejected Google’s $6 billion takeover offer, said Douglas MacMillan and Joseph Galante in Bloomberg.com. Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, 30, said the offer was too low, apparently betting that he can raise more in an initial public offering. Mason was also said to be concerned that “the sale would sap employee morale and alienate business clients.”
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