New CEO George Scangos Says Biogen Idec’s R&D Has to Improve
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sure that we are spending it thoughtfully and in a way that provides an appropriate return,” Scangos said. “This is a challenge that is not unique to Biogen Idec, but I think we can do better and have to do better. I intend to review the pipeline and focus on high-potential projects and cull projects that don’t have high commercial and medical potential. We’ll start that process immediately, in parallel with hiring a great new head of R&D.”
Biogen has had a vacancy in that position since Cecil Pickett retired from the post last year.
Scangos succeeds James Mullen, who retired June 8 at age 51 after 10 years as CEO of Biogen. In his final years at Biogen, Mullen took some shots from the billionaire investor Carl Icahn. Icahn, during one of multiple proxy battles with Biogen, told investors that Mullen had pocketed $60.8 million in total compensation over a five-year period when Biogen’s stock fell from $66.61 to $47.63, and that the company’s poor R&D performance was a product of “failed leadership.” In the course of his proxy fight last year and a deal he cut with Biogen this year, Icahn has put three of his associates on Biogen’s 12-member board.
Now Scangos, who is also joining the board at Biogen, has to lead a company where Icahn has significant influence. In an interview yesterday, the new CEO expressed no qualms about operating alongside the Icahn camp. He noted that he met with each member of the board before accepting the job at Biogen.
“Unless you knew beforehand, I couldn’t tell you which of those people were representatives of Icahn and who weren’t,” Scangos said. “I think the board has come together and everyone has the spirit of doing the right thing to build value for the company.”
Alex Denner, an Icahn investment manager and Biogen board member, could not be reached this morning for comment. (He did leave Xconomy a voice message last night, and he was quoted as a supporter of Scangos in this Boston Globe story.)
On whether to hire Scangos, Biogen’s board was … Next Page »