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Abbott CEO to step down after 21 years

Published on 13/11/19 at 01:38pm

After more than two decades at the head of the company, it has emerged that Miles D White (pictured, right) will be stepping down from his role as Chief Executive Officer of Abbott.

White had served in the position for 21 years since 1998, making him the second-longest serving non-founding CEO in the S&P100. His exit date from the role has been set as 31 March 2020. Following this date, he will continue in his role as Executive Chairman of the Board.

White’s long tenure is marked by numerous achievements, but upon the announcement of his pending departure the company drew attention to the $25 billion acquisition of St Jude Medical and $5.3 billion purchase of Alere in 2016 as recent, standout successes. He was also responsible for the spinout Hospira in 2004 which went on to become part of Pfizer in 2015, and AbbVie in 2013, as well as leading the buyout of BASF’s Knoll pharma business in 2001 which came with what would become the world’s best-selling drug, Humira.

In White’s place, the company’s Board has unanimously selected Robert B Ford (pictured, left), a veteran of 23 years at the company who currently serves as President and Chief Operating Officer since October 2018. He originally joined the company’s Diabetes Care business in 1996, and has held a range of titles including Executive Vice President of Medical Devices, where he oversaw the integration of the St Jude Medical deal which White catalysed.  

“I am honoured to have had the privilege to lead such a great institution and to have worked with so many talented individuals over the years,” White remarked. “One of the primary goals in my career has been to leave the company well positioned for the people who count on us. Today, the company is the strongest it has been during my tenure, and I am confident that Robert will lead Abbott successfully into the future. He is highly respected, has helped us shape the company during the last several years and understands the forces driving change in healthcare.” 

Ford commented on the development: “It is a tremendous honour to have the opportunity to lead Abbott. I thank Miles for his mentorship, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do what Abbott people do best – anticipate where science, medicine and technology are going and innovate to best serve our customers, shareholders and communities.”

William A Osborn, Lead Director and Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee of Abbott's Board of Directors, also gave his thoughts: “We are deeply grateful for the leadership and strategic direction Miles has provided over the past two decades. He embodies the values of the company in every respect and his impact on employees, shareholders, and most importantly, patients, will continue for years to come. He has positioned Abbott well for continued top-tier growth and innovation and we thank him for his countless contributions.

“Robert is the right person for Abbott's future. He is a proven Abbott leader with significant experience running Abbott's global businesses,” he added. “We're confident he will continue Abbott's outstanding legacy of success.”

Matt Fellows

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