Impax CEO Fred Wilkinson leaves abruptly

  • After almost three years on the job
  • Laud, praise and good wishes for Wilkinson
  • Kevin Buchi taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor

(management-change.com) — Hayward, California, December 20, 2016 — Fred Wilkinson, chief executive of Impax, leaves — as “mutually agreed”. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Impax Laboratories, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, December 20, 2016, George Frederick (Fred) Wilkinson has already left the post as Chief Executive Officer at the specialty pharmaceutical company in a surprising move after almost three years on the job, effective December 19, 2016.

No company wants a CEO to flame out in the first years.

Impax will undertake a search for a successor.

Mark Donohue, Vice President Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at Impax, wrote in an email to management-change.com: “The Board is in the process of retaining an executive search firm and they will conduct a search for the best qualified candidate (internal and external).  We will announce the new CEO once the search is finalized – no specific time on when this might occur.”

Wilkinson’s duties are taken over in the interim by J. Kevin Buchi, currently Chief Executive Officer at TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Already a director

Buchi is already a director of Impax. Often a board member is a last resort, someone who is turned to in desperation when a company can’t find other suitable candidates. On the other hand, directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Buchi understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Impax’s organization, finances and strategy.

No reason given

In the announcement, Impax did not explicitly explain the obviously compelling reason for Wilkinson’s sudden move, opening the door for speculation.

Danger signal

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CEO leaves the post abruptly and without a reasonable explanation.

“Separate”

Impax said: Wilkinson and the Company “have mutually agreed that Mr. Wilkinson separate from his positions as President and Chief Executive Officer and resign as a member of the Board of Directors … of the Company, effective December 19, 2016”.

Precise information about the future plans of Wilkinson was not immediately available.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Impax Laboratories, Inc. since July 2015.

Chaired by Robert L. Burr

Impax Laboratories, Inc. is chaired by Robert L. Burr.

Burr has been a self-employed investment manager since May 2008.

On the job as CEO since 2014

George Frederick Wilkinson was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer effective April 29, 2014.

Before joining Impax he served as President, Actavis Global Research and Development at Actavis plc. (formerly Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.)

Prior to that he served as Executive Vice President, Global Brands at Actavis.

Before joining Watson, Wilkinson was President and Chief Operating Officer of Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the proprietary products subsidiary of Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. from 2006 to 2009.

Prior to joining Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Laboratories, Inc. from 2001 to 2006.

From 1996 to 2001, Wilkinson was Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Watson.

Prior to joining Watson, he spent 16 years at Sandoz in numerous senior management positions of increasing responsibility.

Wilkinson received a M.B.A. from Capital University in 1984 and a B.S. in Pharmacy from Ohio Northern University in 1979.

Read the full story in the management-change.com report 48.2016 ($).