NuVasive, which in April ousted longtime chairman & CEO Alex Lukianov over violations of its internal expense account and personnel policies, had named Lucier interim CEO and chairman while it sought a replacement – who turned out to be Lucier.
"Since being appointed Interim CEO, Greg has hit the ground running with an intense focus on driving NuVasive’s industry leadership," lead independent director Jack Blair said in prepared remarks. "As the board considered the needs of the company, we determined that this focus as well as Greg’s broad healthcare and leadership experience made him the right person to lead NuVasive forward. In addition to having a solid understanding of our strategy and business as a director, Greg brings a record of execution in areas that are also areas of strategic growth for NuVasive, including driving cutting-edge innovation, increased operational efficiencies and targeted expansion in key markets and geographies. With the support of our talented team of employee shareowners, we are confident that Greg will apply his skill set to the spine market to also drive compelling growth and value creation at NuVasive."
Lucier, a board member at San Diego-based NuVasive since 2013, is the former chairman & CEO of Life Technologies, acquired last year by Thermo Fisher Scientific for $13.6 billion.
"NuVasive benefits from a dedicated and passionate team, a culture of innovation and strong surgeon customer relationships. I am excited to work as CEO alongside NuVasive’s exceptional management team and more than 1,500 employee shareowners around the world to capitalize on the strength of the company’s market share-taking strategies, integrated procedural offerings and significant growth potential," Lucier said in a press release. "Together, we are committed to scaling our business and more efficiently deploying resources, rapidly growing our presence outside the U.S. and leading innovation in the spine market through the introduction of game-changing technologies such as our recently launched Integrated Global Alignment platform. We have a tremendous amount of opportunity ahead of us, and I am confident in our ability to accelerate our positive momentum and continue to generate value for our shareholders in 2015 and beyond."
Back in April, Blair said an outside investigation found that Lukianov "had not complied with certain of the company’s expense reimbursement and personnel policies."
"Although the amounts involved appear to be immaterial to the company’s financial results, his actions in this regard were not representative of the high standards by which NuVasive operates. We believe this leadership transition is appropriate and in the best interests of the company and all of our stakeholders. We appreciate the positive contributions Alex has made to the company and wish him well in his future endeavors," Blair said at the time.
Although Lukianov resigned effective March 27, he’s due to on as a consultant and advisor through September 2016. He’s in line to receive $1.4 million in severance and consulting fees plus the continued vesting of his outstanding equity awards, NuVasive said.
Analysts said Lukianov’s ouster could make NuVasive a more palatable takeover target.
"Undoubtedly, some will read into this management transition as a sign of increased take-out prospects. NUVA has been consistently talked about as a take-out, but perhaps less of a willing seller under Mr. Lukianov’s tenure. Therefore, we expect NUVA could now be considered an asset more likely to be in play under a new CEO," Leerink Partners analyst Richard Newitter wrote in a note to investors today. "NUVA management will likely remain very focused in the near-term on its goals of driving more profitable sales growth and greater shareholder value as a standalone company. That said, consolidation in orthopedics is happening (i.e. ZMH (OP) / Biomet), and spine is an area ripe for further acquisition activity in our view. Against this backdrop, the fact that NUVA has always been considered a take-out target – not to mention newly appointed interim CEO Lucier’s history of selling companies (i.e., Life Technologies) – we would not be surprised if discussion around a NUVA takeout begins to more aggressively heat up."
"On 1 had, we view Lukianov’s departure as a loss since we believe that he was the face of NUVA and instrumental in building it into the #3 spine company. On the other hand, we believe that an acquisition of NUVA may now be more likely with Lukianov out of the picture," echoed Needham & Co.’s Nike Matson.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.