Miles White: Reformulating Abbott

Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White had to resort to tea and honey after losing his voice, but that barely slowed him down as he went about selling Abbott's $7.3 billion acquisition of ALZA to investors. Early signs were that Wall Street was somewhat hesitant about the price paid for the deal, designed to bolster the $12.5 billion company's drug pipeline with new oncology, urology, and drug-delivery products. "I'm not yet sure ALZA was the right move to make," says SG Cowen analyst Michael Mullen.

Still, the deal, announced June 21, showed that the maker of antibiotics, infant formula, diagnostic gear, and AIDS drugs is stirring after White, 44, succeeded Duane Burnham early this year. The ex-McKinsey consultant joined Abbott in 1984 and headed Abbott's diagnostics unit, where he engineered the 1996 acquisition of MediSense. White insists the ALZA deal will boost Abbott's lagging earnings within a year. And, he says, more deals are ahead: "There are a lot of things I'd like to strengthen." Including his voice, of course.

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