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New Chairman Appointed by Chiron

September 16, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Biotechnology giant Chiron Corp. said Monday that Chief Executive Howard H. Pien would replace Chairman Sean P. Lance, who plans to retire in May.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron lured Lance away from drug maker Glaxo Wellcome -- now known as GlaxoSmithKline -- in 1998. Before that, scientists who founded Chiron in 1981 had run the company. Pien, now 45, replaced the 56-year-old Lance as president and CEO in April.

Under Lance, Chiron shed some medical-test products and expanded in other areas through purchases. Since Pien joined Chiron, the company acquired British-based PowderJect Pharmaceuticals, an influenza-vaccine maker, and U.S. drug maker Wyeth has withdrawn from the flu-vaccine market.

The acquisition "is a very smart move as Wyeth has stopped producing flu vaccines," said Anne-Sophie Borgeaud, a fund manager at Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie. "The market is quite dry and Chiron is taking advantage of that."

Chiron shares fell 45 cents to $55.67 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. They've gained 48% this year.

Pien had been president of international pharmaceuticals at GlaxoSmithKline, the world's No. 2 drug maker, before joining Chiron. He's also worked for Abbott Laboratories and Merck & Co.

Chiron's products include more than 30 vaccines, drugs for cancer and multiple sclerosis and medical tests, such as one for West Nile virus. Second-quarter profit rose 23% to $62 million as the company sold more vaccines and blood tests.

Chiron trailed only Amgen Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, and Genentech Inc., based in South San Francisco, in biotech sales last year.

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