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Stada CEO departs ahead of proxy battle with activist investors

Hartmut Retzlaff cites health reasons amid rumours of a company sale

Stada 

It has been confirmed that Stada's long-serving chief executive Hartmut Retzlaff is departing the company after a protracted leave of absence for health reasons.

62-year-old Retzlaff has tendered his resignation - effective immediately - and interim CEO Matthias Wiedenfels will continue in the role for the time being while the process of finding a replacement gets underway.

The outgoing CEO, who has been at the head of Stada since 1992, leaves the German pharma company in the midst of a revolt by some activist investors who would like to see the business put up for sale, arguing that it has under-performed compared to its peers in the market. 

Stada has revenues of around €2bn a year and manufactures generic and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. It has been linked to takeover attempts multiple times in recent years.

Earlier this year a group called Active Ownership Capital acquired a minority (5%) stake in Stada and has been pushing for the accession of new supervisory board members more amenable to its desires.

Stada recently postponed its annual meeting to 26 August and has put forward a counter proposal that will see three current board members replaced with new blood.

Adding to the intrigue, it has been reported that Stada has been in talks with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners about a possible sale, as well as rumours in the press of a merger approach from Polish generic drug company Polpharma. There have also been suggestions that Stada has hired Goldman Sachs to advise on future strategy as well as to firm up its defenses against the rebel shareholders.

How that plays out will no longer be the concern of Retzlaff, who will receive a severance payment and his salary until the end of the year, said Stada. 

Company chairman Martin Abend - one of the board members being targeted for replacement - thanked the former CEO for his “entrepreneurial achievements” and “setting a clear course” for the firm.

Article by
Phil Taylor

16th August 2016

From: Sales

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