Selecta CEO Werner Cautreels prepares for his departure

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • Accolades and praise for Cautreels
  • Search for a successor
  • Cautreels spoke at length and said 161 words

(exechange) — Watertown, Massachusetts, January 2, 2018 — This news came the day after New Year’s Day. Werner Cautreels, chief executive of Selecta, prepares for his departure. As announced by Selecta Biosciences, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, Werner Cautreels, Chief Executive Officer, leaves the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company after almost nine years in the position, effective December 31, 2018.

Selecta will undertake a search for a successor.

Long goodbye

It is a long goodbye. The announcement of Cautreels’ move comes up to twelve months prior to his planned departure from his post of CEO.

In general, a top executive who announces the departure very early may be considered a lame duck.

Lengthy lead times give boards extra time to find replacements, and they also create uncertainty. Would-be successors may jockey for attention and workers may wonder who is actually in charge.

Generally speaking, lame-duck leaders can take a forceful role in selecting a successor and are not expected to launch major shifts.

“This is the right time to identify my successor for the next phase of Selecta’s growth”

Cautreels’ departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Cautreels said: “This is the right time to identify my successor for the next phase of Selecta’s growth while also further strengthening our governance.”

Precise information about Cautreels’ future plans was not immediately available.


Selecta said: “President and CEO Werner Cautreels, Ph.D., intends to retire effective December 31, 2018.”

Selecta further said: “On December 31, 2017, Werner Cautreels, Ph.D. notified Selecta Biosciences, Inc. … of his planned retirement as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, to be effective December 31, 2018.”

Share price decline

The change follows a sharp decline in the share price of Selecta Biosciences, Inc. since November 2017.

In the position of CEO since 2010

Werner Cautreels, Ph.D., has served as the Company’s President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Company’s board of directors since July 2010.

Prior to joining Selecta, Cautreels was Chief Executive Officer of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the pharmaceuticals division of the Solvay Group, in Brussels, Belgium, from 2005 until Solvay Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in February 2010.

Before becoming the CEO of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Cautreels was their Global Head of R&D from 1998.

Prior to joining Solvay, he was employed by Sanofi, Sterling-Winthrop from 1979 to 1994, and Nycomed-Amersham from 1994 to 1998 in a variety of R&D management positions in Europe and in the United States.

Cautreels was a director of Innogenetics NV in Gent, Belgium and ArQule Inc., in Woburn, Massachusetts from 1999 to 2006.

He also served on the Board of Directors of Seres Therapeutics, Inc. from 2013 to 2016.

He currently serves as a director of Galapagos NV, in Mechelen, Belgium. He was the President of the Belgian-Luxemburg Chamber of Commerce for Russia and Belarus until June 2010.

Cautreels received his Ph.D. in Chemistry, specializing in Mass Spectrometry, from the University of Antwerp (Antwerp, Belgium), and his financial and business training from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

Selecta expects Cautreels to remain a member of the Board following his retirement.

“In conjunction with this succession process, Omid Farokhzad, a member of Selecta’s Board and a cofounder of the company, has been appointed Chairman of the Board effective December 31, 2017,” the Company said.

Farokhzad is one of Selecta’s cofounders and has served as a member of its Board of Directors since 2007, including serving as its Vice Chairman from 2008 to 2016.

Farokhzad is a physician-scientist and serial entrepreneur. He has been directly involved in the launch and development of four biotechnology companies and, on occasion, has assumed additional roles in support of management.

Farokhzad currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tarveda Therapeutics and Placon Therapeutics.

From 2006 to 2014, Farokhzad also served on the Board of Directors of BIND Therapeutics, Inc.

He is currently a Professor at Harvard Medical School and directs the Center for Nanomedicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

He received his M.D. and M.A. from Boston University School of Medicine, and his M.B.A. from MIT.


Generally speaking, when a top manager announces to step aside with no successor available, it’s a sign that the change was unexpected and too early.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Werner Cautreels’ move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 2.2018 ($).