Celesio Fires CEO Markus Pinger in Management Disagreement

Celesio AG, a German drug distributor, fired Chief Executive Officer Markus Pinger because of “different opinions of the management of the company.” The shares fell the most in almost two years.

Pinger left immediately and his management board tasks will be handled provisionally by Chief Financial Officer Marion Helmes, the Stuttgart-based company said today in a statement. The supervisory board dismissed Pinger, 50, at a meeting today, according to the statement.

Celesio and CVS Caremark Corp. have held talks on a possible collaboration, including purchasing pacts, people familiar with the situation said last month. Manager Magazin reported last month that CVS was prepared to buy Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH’s 50.01 percent stake in Celesio. Pinger had been in talks with Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS for some time, the magazine reported.

Rainer Berghausen, a spokesman for Celesio, declined to comment beyond the statement. Haniel stands behind the decision of the supervisory board, said Dietmar Bochert, a company spokesman.

Celesio dropped 6.9 percent to close at 16.49 euros in Frankfurt, giving the company a market value of 2.8 billion euros ($3.6 billion).

Celesio hired Citigroup Inc. to help in discussions with Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. about taking a potential stake in the German company, Reuters reported July 1.

Helmes Future

“The Celesio supervisory board would like to thank Markus Pinger for his work in the management board,” Stephan Gemkow, chairman of the supervisory board, said in the statement. “Dr. Helmes has contributed decisively to the chosen path of the realignment of the group. The supervisory board is looking forward to working together with Mrs. Helmes in her extended responsibilities.” Gemkow is CEO of Haniel.

Celesio operates 2,200 pharmacies, supplies 65,000 drugstores and hospitals, and has 140 wholesale branches, according to its website. The company has 39,000 employees and operates in 16 countries.

Pinger joined Celesio in 2011 from Beiersdorf AG, the maker of Nivea skin cream. Under Pinger, Celesio sold its DocMorris mail-order pharmacy business as well as its Movianto unit, which offers logistics services to drugmakers, and Pharmexx, which provides sales and marketing support.

Helmes, 47, will continue to serve as CFO, Celesio said.

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