Philips’ Rusckowski Resigns, DiSanzo New Healthcare CEO

Royal Philips Electronics NV, the world’s biggest lightbulb maker, said the chief of its health care unit resigned, the latest departure in a management reshuffle led by Chief Executive Officer Frans van Houten.

Steve Rusckowski will be replaced by Deborah DiSanzo, who has worked at Philips for more than a decade, on May 1, the company said in a statement late yesterday. Quest Diagnostics Inc., the biggest U.S. operator of medical labs, said in a statement that Rusckowski will become its new chief executive.

Rusckowski’s “sudden departure is a setback,” said Sjoerd Ummels, an analyst at ING in Brussels. The 54-year-old executive was “instrumental in building out Philips’ health-care business, the key earnings contributor,” Ummels, who has a hold recommendation on the stock, said in a note to clients.

Van Houten, who has been in charge for a year, has been shaking up the Amsterdam-based company’s management ranks. Philips last month appointed Eric Rondolat to oversee its lighting division, filling a position that had been left for almost a year without permanent leadership.

Other new managers include Pieter Nota, who became head of the Consumer Lifestyle unit in September 2010 with the departure of Andrea Ragnetti, and Chief Financial Officer Ron Wirahadiraksa, who succeeded Pierre-Jean Sivignon. The company also appointed Jim Andrew as chief strategy officer last year.

Philips shares rose 1.3 percent to 13.93 euros at 11:47 a.m. in Amsterdam trading.

Challenges for DiSanzo

Philips, which competes with General Electric Co. and Siemens AG in selling health equipment, is facing declining demand as hospitals cut back on orders. Van Houten has announced a company-wide savings plan involving 4,500 job cuts as demand for consumer electronics and lighting supplies also slows.

DiSanzo joined Philips in 2001 and became CEO of Healthcare Informatics and Patient Monitoring in June 2008, Philips said. Two years ago, she took over as CEO of the company’s Patient Care and Clinical Informatics unit.

“She has done a really good job in making the Philips monitoring systems and clinical diagnostics business a clear global leader,” said Martin Prozesky, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in London.

In her new role, DiSanzo will face slower growth in the U.S. health-care market, political challenges in Europe and a need to expand in emerging markets, according to Prozesky.

“They need to continue to execute well in what will continue to be a pretty tough environment,” he said.

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