Biogen Said to Name Papadopoulos as New Chairman

Biogen Idec Inc., the third-largest biotechnology company, will name director Stelios Papadopoulos as chairman, replacing William Young, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Young doesn’t plan to seek re-election to the board this year, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. Papadopoulos would assume the role when Young’s term ends at the company’s next annual meeting. Kate Niazi-Sai, a spokeswoman for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen, declined to comment yesterday.

Biogen shares have almost doubled in the last year as the company exceeded expectations with sales of its newest multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera. After drawing revenue of $876 million in 2013, analysts expect the drug to generate $2.2 billion this year. The company also sells the MS drugs Avonex and Tysabri, and is awaiting approval of three additional medicines for hemophilia and MS.

“Stelios has as much, if not more, experience than anyone on Planet Earth right now advising biotech companies on how to create shareholder value,” Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst with ISI Group, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “If the world of biotech was a city, Stelios would be mayor.”

Young has been Biogen’s chairman since January 2010 and a director since 1997, according to a regulatory filing last year.

Exelixis, Regulus

Papadopoulos is a former investment banker specializing in life sciences companies. He has been on Biogen’s board since July 2008 and is also chairman and co-founder of Exelixis Inc., a developer of cancer drugs. He’s also a director of BG Medicine Inc. and chairman of Regulus Therapeutics Inc. Papadopoulos was 64 as of a filing ahead of last year’s June annual meeting; Young was 68.

As chairman, Papadopoulos will need to focus on Biogen’s next sources of growth to follow Tecfidera and the drugs awaiting approval, Schoenebaum said. The company has compounds in clinical trials for multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Alzheimer’s disease and other maladies, and it will likely continue looking for additional assets, he said.

“The board should be focused on generating earnings growth after 2020,” Schoenebaum said. “Between now and then, they’ve got pretty much everything they need with Tecfidera and the hemophilia drugs. These guys are stocked.”