Stryker CEO Stephen MacMillan resigns for “family reasons”

Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK) chairman, president & CEO Stephen MacMillan walked away from one of the most successful medical device companies in the world on Wednesday, citing family reasons for an abrupt departure.

MacMillan’s resignation from the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based device maker was made public in a prepared release last night. His departure is effective immediately.

Stryker CFO Curt Hartman, will serve as the interim CEO while the company looks for a permanent successor to MacMillan, who had the job for 7 years. William Parfet, the board’s lead independent director, was named the nonexecutive chairman to replace MacMillan on the board.

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MacMillan’s decision, which has left many in the industry scratching their head, was made for personal reasons and unrelated to his performance at Stryker. MLive, a news outlet in Michigan said that his swift departure may be related to a divorce.

MacMillan’s departure from Stryker may also leave a hole at AdvaMed, the medical device’s industry council. MacMillan was slated to take the chairman’s seat at the industry lobby at a board meeting this March.

There is no official decision yet on whether he will step down from the board of directors, AdvaMed spokeswoman Wanda Moebius told MassDevice.

"We have governance policies to address these types of situations and we’ll be following those policies, including conferring with other board members," Moebius told us. She added that MacMillan has been an "extraordinarily effective leader and we appreciate his contribution to [AdvaMed]."

On The Street, where the news has SYK shares down about 1.5% to $53.90 as of about 10:30 a.m. today, analysts looked for some bright spots in MacMillan’s departure.

"We are certainly disappointed to see Steve leave; his strong leadership over the past 9 years has helped steer the organization through several challenging periods – e.g., warning letters, compliance re-organization, DOJ investigation," Leerink Swann analyst Rick Wise wrote. "But we do not view his departure as in any way related to the fundamentals of the business or SYK’s financial outlook. We continue to view SYK as one of the best positioned companies in MedTech to deliver above-average growth over the long run. We would view any weakness in SYK shares related to yesterday’s announcement as a buying opportunity. Maintain Outperform rating."

MacMillan, 48, landed the corner office at the orthopedics maker in January 2005, having served as president and COO since June 2003.

He was elected chairman of the board in January 2010 when then-chairman John Brown retired. The board decided that it was best to put full responsibility for Stryker’s day-to-day management in MacMillan’s hands, according to SEC filings.

MacMillan pulled in $1.2 million in base salary with another $3.5 mllion in stock and other compensation in 2010, according to the company’s proxy statement for 2011. He has just under 1.2 million in stock and rights to acquire additional stock valued at about $62.5 million, as of yesterday.

MacMillan’s wife, Amy MacMillan, an adjunct Assistant Professor and Instructor of Marketing at Western Michigan University, also has ties to the company. She serves as the director of a catering company that pulled in $458,000 from Stryker in 2010. She doesn’t have any ownership interest in the catering company, according to SEC filings.

MacMillan’s departure is the second high ranking official at the company to leave in the last year. In June, Michael Mogul, head of the company’s $4 billion orthopedics division jumped ship to take the corner office at DJO Global Inc.

Curt Hartman, who will lead the company as it looks for a successor, has been with the company since 1990 and has "progressed through a variety of leadership positions over the last 22 years, including 6 years as Global President of Stryker Instruments," the company said in a prepared release. In April 2009, he was named VP and CFO.

MacMillan presided over some headline-making announcements recently, including Stryker’s decision to cut 5% of its global workforce in efforts to cut costs ahead of the impending 2.3% medical device levy.

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