After a legendary stint at Celgene’s helm, biopharma vet Bob Hugin is on his way out — as Senate race rumors swirl

After orchestrating the emergence of one of the biggest biotechs to come along in the past 20 years, Bob Hugin has announced his retirement as executive chairman of Celgene.

Hugin and Trump. GETTY IMAGES

His departure comes right on the heels of word that Hugin, a committed Republican and major league contributor to the conservative party in New Jersey, has been considering a run for the Senate in a showdown with Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.

Hugin reportedly assured party officials in the state that he can contribute $20 million of his own money for the run, while looking to raise $40 million more.

Hugin started at Celgene $CELG as CFO and went on to dazzle Wall Street by building the franchise around Revlimid. The cash cow at Celgene funded the single most ambitious partnering and acquisition frenzy in biotech, spawning dozens of deals — including the $7.1 billion acquisition of Receptos, which delivered the late-stage blockbuster prospect ozanimod.

Mark Alles

More recently Celgene CEO Mark Alles, who Hugin had groomed for the top spot, managed to rattle the market with some shaky forecasts. But the company quickly bounced back with deals to acquire Impact and most notably Juno, positioning Celgene as one of the leaders in the CAR-T field. Alles is now adding the chairman’s title to his resume.

Always brimming with confidence, eager to cheer on his own company at JP Morgan and well liked by investors, Hugin had an extraordinary run at Celgene.

Normally, this kind of retirement announcement would be a prelude to a busy followup career, with board spots and startup opportunities to consider. We’ll see whether he’s now more interested in a political career after completing a legendary finish in biopharma.

Image: Bob Hugin. Getty Images

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