Hologic hands corner office to former Stryker chief, takes on 2 Icahn board members

Hologic hands corner office to former Stryker chief, takes on 2 Icahn board members

Massachusetts medtech maker Hologic (NSDQ:HOLX) did some top-line rearranging, naming Steven MacMillan its new CEO and adding 2 members to its board of directors to appease an activist investor.

New CEO MacMillan has spent some 24 years in the medtech space, perhaps most notably as president & CEO for Stryker (NYSE:SYK). MacMillan resigned from Stryker’s top spot in February 2012 amid a flurry of rumors and speculation about his personal life.

"Since our 1st meeting with Steve in late October, it was clear that he is the right leader to take Hologic forward," Hologic board chairman David LaVance Jr. said in prepared remarks. "The board unanimously concluded that his track record of delivering strong financial results and creating shareholder value makes him the ideal chief executive officer for Hologic."

"During his tenure, Steve led Stryker Corporation to strong operating performance, including nearly tripling revenue, and delivered stock price appreciation that significantly outperformed the S&P 500 index," LaVance added. "Hologic has made progress in reviewing the strategy, leadership and cost structure of each of its businesses, and the board is confident that under Steve’s leadership the company can leverage its strong product platforms to drive value for shareholders and other key stakeholders."

MacMillan’s departure from Stryker, attributed to "family reasons," was dogged by rumors of marital infidelity after a Wall Street Journal article claimed that MacMillan had revealed to stock analysts that he was romantically involved with a former employee. Stryker officials insisted that his resignation had nothing to do with his performance in the corner office, but was related only to personal reasons that began the year before.

Hologic also announced today the appointment of 2 new independent directors to sit on the board, an arrangement made in a settlement with activist investor Carl Icahn. Icahn last month nabbed up more than 12.6% of the company, acquiring about $285.4 million in HOLX shares and demanding changes at the women’s health devices maker.

Hologic immediately adopted a 1-year rights plan to defend the company against a hostile takeover, granting stockholders 1 right for each common stock share they own and giving investors the ability to buy into a new series of preferred stock should anyone try to nab a 10% or larger stake in the company.

Icahn has a reputation for making waves at companies he takes big stakes in. He said in a regulatory filing that he took an interest in Hologic because he felt its shares were undervalued, adding that he may seek a seat on Hologic’s board. It appears that he settled instead for the appointments of Jonathan Christodoro and Samuel Merksamer as new directors. Both Christodoro and  Merksamer are managing directors at Icahn Capital LP.

Hologic also engaged as its new science advisor Dr. Burton Drayer, who is the chairman & director of the Dept. of Radiology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Icahn called Drayer "an extremely valuable resource to the company going forward."

Hologic shares remained flat today, down just 0.4% to $22.20 as of about 12:50 p.m.

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