Synta CEO Bahcall Resigns as Board Panel to Run Drugmaker

Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp., the maker of the experimental cancer drug ganetespib, said co-founder Safi Bahcall has resigned as chief executive officer and will be replaced by a committee led by Chairman Keith Gollust until a new top executive is named.

Bahcall had been CEO of the Lexington, Massachusetts-based drugmaker since 2001, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company had declined 47 percent through yesterday since reaching a high of $11.71 in January 2013 and later reporting ganetespib provided less benefit than investors anticipated in a lung cancer study.

The new executive committee will consist of Gollust, director Robert N. Wilson, and a newly appointed director, Paul A. Friedman, former chief executive officer of Incyte Corp. The committee will lead Synta until a new chief executive officer is named, the company said yesterday in a statement. The change isn’t expected to result in any delay in the testing of ganetespib, according to the statement.

The committee “looks forward to working closely with the management team while we conduct our search for a new chief executive, a process which will commence immediately,” Gollust said in the statement.

Synta didn’t give a reason for Bahcall’s resignation. The shares gained 4.9 percent to $6.45 at the close in New York.

“All the information regarding the management changes at Synta is contained within the news release,” Eliza Schleifstein, a spokeswoman for Synta, said by telephone. “There is no additional comment at this time.”

The company is still negotiating a separate agreement with Bahcall, according to a regulatory filing today.

Synta’s ganetespib is being evaluated in clinical trials for lung cancer, breast cancer and other tumor types, the company has said.

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