A year into Albert Bourla’s reign, Ian Read leaves all of Pfizer in the new CEO’s control
Ian Read is officially bowing out of Pfizer.
After a brief stint as executive chairman — supervising his successor Albert Bourla’s first year as CEO — Read is retiring at the end of the year and turning over the chairman role to Bourla. December 31, 2019 will mark the conclusion of Read’s 41 years at the pharma giant $PFE.
Bourla is gathering the reins amid a flurry of action to reshape Pfizer into a “smaller, more focused, science-based company with a singular focus on innovative pharma.” Weeks ago the company revealed plans to combine its off-patent drug business, Upjohn, with Mylan — following an earlier deal to spin off its consumer health unit into a joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline.
Read — a vocal representative of the industry, who’s unafraid to defend his somewhat controversial views on things like megamergers and drug price hikes but also open to changing his mind — said he believes “Pfizer’s best days are yet to come.”
It is now up to Bourla, a veterinarian by training who joined Pfizer in 1993 and became COO in 2017, to execute on a new vision that involves doubling down on the internal late-stage assets while keeping an eye on bolt-on M&A deals to replenish the early- and mid-stage pipeline.
In his sendoff for Read, the new chairman and CEO heaped praise on his mentor:
I want to thank Ian for his unwavering dedication to Pfizer over the past four decades and during this leadership transition. As a result of his unrelenting focus on culture, creating value and developing talent, Pfizer has become a stronger and more stable institution. His leadership and counsel have been invaluable to the company, and more personally, I have benefited greatly from Ian’s advice, guidance and friendship.
The transition “is the result of a systemic and comprehensive succession plan undertaken by the board several years ago,” added Shantanu Narayen, the lead independent director on the board.