Biogen’s CEO Retires Tomorrow, COO to Follow

6/7/10

Biogen Idec will officially be CEO-less starting tomorrow. James Mullen, Biogen’s chief executive, retires on June 8 after a decade on the job and the Cambridge, MA-based company hasn’t named his successor.

The company (NASDAQ:BIIB), which also has significant operations in San Diego, said this afternoon that its in the final stages of selecting the firm’s future head honcho and expects to reveal its choice in “the coming weeks.” Whether the company, the world’s largest maker of drugs for multiple sclerosis, has even made an offer or picked someone for the CEO post is unclear. Biogen spokeswoman Christina Chan declined to comment on these specifics today.

In the meantime, the firm said today that the company’s chief operating officer, Robert Hamm, is retiring from the company on Dec. 31, 2010 after 16 years at the company.

Biogen’s search for a new chief executive began around the time Mullen announced his retirement from the CEO post and the firm’s board on January 4. Mullen, who became CEO of Biogen in 2000, has taken some shots from billionaire investor Carl Icahn in recent years for the company’s poor stock performance compared with its peers in the biotech sector. Icahn also has blasted Biogen’s senior management for the company’s inability to launch a new drug on the U.S. market since the FDA approved its hit MS product natalizumab (Tysabri) in November 2004.

Until Mullen’s successor is named, the company’s senior executives will report to the firm’s chairman, William Young. Young talked to Xconomy in February about the company’s high-profile CEO search, saying that Biogen may opt to hire a scientist for the firm’s No. 1 job.

In any case, the CEO job at Biogen is one of the biggest jobs in the biotech world. The firm’s $4.4 billion in annual revenue and nearly $1 billion in profit last year makes it one among a select group of biotech outfits that actually makes money. Its market cap at the close of the market today was $12.7 billion, which is surpassed in the biotech arena only by Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Genzyme , and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD).

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