Ex-Celgene CEO Bob Hugin makes a leap back into biotech, joining an embattled Allergan’s board

Bob Hugin is back.

The former Celgene CEO, who stepped down from the top job when the big biotech’s shares and rep were riding high in the saddle, is jumping onto the board at Allergan $AGN — which is slowly thawing to the idea of revamping its leadership structure.

Brent Saunders

Under pressure from the hedge fund Appaloosa LP to divide the role of chairman and CEO, Allergan’s board and CEO Brent Saunders used the news of Hugin’s arrival on the board to note that the company will do that — eventually.

From the statement:

(T)he Allergan Board of Directors today announced its intention to recommend FOR a pending shareholder proposal, which will also appear in Allergan’s 2019 proxy statement, requiring an Independent Board Chair to be phased in during the next leadership transition.

When will that next transition be? We don’t know. For now, Saunders remains completely in charge, with the backing of his board.

In the meantime, Hugin — who lost his bid (and a fortune) in a run for a New Jersey Senate seat last fall — was ready to put his shoulder to the wheel of investor value.

In Allergan, I see a company with market leading positions in four therapeutic areas, a promising R&D pipeline and a focus on executing its business strategy. I look forward to contributing to the board’s effective, independent oversight of Allergan’s strategy.

Allergan needs all the help it can get right now.

Its 2019 guidance has disenchanted investors, further pummeling the company’s already battered stock price as the activists stepped up pressure on the leadership.

Hugin’s old company Celgene also lost quite a bit of investor value in the 3 years since he stepped down, taking the chairman’s job for awhile. But during his reign the company swelled into the top 15 global tier, building a rep as one of the most prolific — and competent — dealmakers in biopharma. Bristol-Myers is buying the much-diminished company now for $74 billion in cash and stock.

Image: Bob Hugin. AP IMAGES

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