RPT-UPDATE 3-Pfizer names Read CEO as Kindler retires unexpectedly

* Kindler leaving to ‘recharge his batteries’

* Read, 57, has been head of pharmaceuticals

* Investors may prefer change at Pfizer – analyst

(Repeats to remove duplicate paragraph)

(Adds analyst comments, stock performance)

By Lewis Krauskopf and Ransdell Pierson

NEW YORK, Dec 5 (BestGrowthStock) – Pfizer Inc’s chief
executive stepped down without warning, acknowledging the
personal toll involved in steering the world’s largest
drugmaker through a multibillion dollar merger.

The departure of Jeffrey Kindler, 55, comes more than a
year after Pfizer completed the signature move of his tenure
— the $67 billion acquisition of rival Wyeth. But he leaves
before the company confronts the U.S. patent expiration of its
top-selling Lipitor cholesterol medicine expected in November.

Kindler said he was leaving to “recharge my batteries”
after nearly five years on the job. He is being replaced by
the global head of pharmaceuticals, Ian Read, who is 57,
Pfizer said late on Sunday.

“The combination of meeting the requirements of our many
stakeholders around the world and the 24/7 nature of my
responsibilities, has made this period extremely demanding on
me personally,” Kindler said in a statement issued by Pfizer.

Les Funtleyder, portfolio manager of the Miller Tabak
Healthcare Transformation Fund, said it was unusual for a CEO
to resign citing fatigue.

“I’d have liked a little more notice, and a little more
orderly process,” said Funtleyder, who does not hold Pfizer
shares. “The suddenness of the announcement will make many
people think there may be something more here.”

Funtleyder said Kindler’s resignation may be more
connected to Pfizer’s poor stock price performance, noting
that investors have shown far more enthusiasm about Merck &
Co’s purchase of Schering-Plough.

Indeed, Pfizer’s abrupt management change comes in stark
contrast with Merck, which said last week that President Ken
Frazier would succeed Richard Clark as CEO in a
long-telegraphed and expected move. [ID:nN30259450]

Since July 2006, when Kindler assumed the CEO post, Pfizer
shares have fallen roughly 27 percent compared with a 10
percent decline for the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical index
of large U.S. and European drugmakers.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said Pfizer shares
would probably rise on Monday “because investors just want to
see change at a washed-out story like Pfizer.”

“The departure is sudden but I doubt there was one event
per se” that led to his departure, Anderson said. “Highly
likely that he was pushed.”

LOSING LIPITOR

Kindler, previously the company’s general counsel with
little drug industry experience, was a surprise choice when he
was named to the drugmaker’s top job in 2006.

Only months after he became CEO, Pfizer was dealt a
devastating blow when it halted development of its
experimental “good cholesterol” drug torcetrapib over safety
reasons.

That product had been intended to help build on its
cholesterol franchise from Lipitor, which had $11.4 billion in
sales last year. Instead, Pfizer will lose the vast majority
of that revenue when its loses exclusivity on the drug.

Its Viagra erectile dysfunction drug is also expected to
lose patent protection in the next few years.

The acquisition of Wyeth, which brought Pfizer more access
to biotech drugs and vaccines as well as cost-cutting
opportunities, was intended to help Pfizer maneuver through
the Lipitor loss.

So far, investors remain skeptical. Pfizer shares have
fallen 5.2 percent since the company bought Wyeth on Oct. 15,
2009. Merck shares have jumped 15 percent since it bought
Schering-Plough on Nov. 3, 2009.

Read, who joined Pfizer in 1978, has led Pfizer’s
worldwide pharmaceuticals business since 2006. The business
includes primary care, specialty care, oncology and emerging
markets and accounts for about 85 percent of Pfizer’s annual
revenue. He has been responsible for more than 40,000 employees.

Pfizer said its board will elect a nonexecutive chairman
from its current membership at its next regularly scheduled
meeting that will take place within the next two weeks.

Kindler’s resignation comes after the surprise departure
of Pfizer research executive Martin Mackay in May.

Mackay had been co-head of research with Mikael Dolsten,
former head of research for Wyeth, after Pfizer acquired Wyeth.

But Mackay unexpectedly jumped ship just seven months
later, to head research at rival AstraZeneca Plc ,
leaving Dolsten in command of research for the world’s largest
drugmaker.
(Editing by Michele Gershberg and Anshuman Daga)
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RPT-UPDATE 3-Pfizer names Read CEO as Kindler retires unexpectedly