Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Stada Is Close to Naming Pharma Veteran Albrecht New CEO

  • Albrecht would become fourth CEO in a year at German firm
  • Chairman Oetker separately accuses ex-executives of wrongdoing

German drugmaker Stada Arzneimittel AG is close to appointing Claudio Albrecht, a pharmaceutical industry veteran, as chief executive, according to people familiar with the matter.

The appointment is likely to be announced in the coming days, the people said, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to disclose the information.

Albrecht, 58, would be the fourth executive to helm the company in little more than a year, following a tumultuous period that saw Hartmut Retzlaff, Stada’s CEO for more than two decades, step down and a protracted takeover battle ensue. Private equity firms Bain Capital and Cinven this month clinched their 5.4 billion euro ($6.3 billion) acquisition of Stada, putting an end to a quest that had spanned months and at times looked doomed to fail. Chairman Carl Ferdinand Oetker and a number of directors have since said they will step down on Sept. 25, paving the way for a new board.

Spokesmen for Stada and for its new owners declined to comment on Wednesday.

Austria-born Albrecht, an avid skier, is a former CEO of two European generic-drug makers. He headed Ratiopharm GmbH before being ousted in 2005 because of a dispute with the owners, Germany’s billionaire Merckle family. He later ran Actavis Group hf, a closely held drugmaker that was purchased by Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2012 for 4.25 billion euros. More recently, Albrecht has been an industry consultant, and held various roles at Switzerland’s Novartis AG prior to joining Ratiopharm.

Executives Probed

Meanwhile, Oetker told investors attending Stada’s annual shareholder meeting in Frankfurt that an investigation into former top executives has found serious wrongdoing. There is “concrete evidence” of egregious behavior and violations of compliance standards by Retzlaff, who stepped down a year ago, as well as his successor Matthias Wiedenfels and the former finance chief Helmut Kraft, Oetker said. Both Wiedenfels and Kraft were ousted in July, though Stada didn’t give a reason at that time.

Oetker urged investors not to absolve the former executives, a move that could be a largely symbolic but potentially humiliating rebuke of the former executives. Shareholders, who in Germany are required to vote at each annual meeting on whether to discharge executives of responsibility for their actions, opted on Wednesday to postpone that decision.

Lawyers for Wiedenfels and Retzlaff said the chairman’s allegations were unfounded.

Oetker’s proposal to investors to not absolve the former managers is “incomprehensible” after the supervisory board in July proposed otherwise, Tanja Karhausen, from the law firm Sachse Rechtsanwaelte, said in a written statement on Wednesday on behalf of Wiedenfels. Retzlaff hadn’t received any evidence or been given an opportunity to respond, said his lawyer, Franz Enderle of law firm Bub Gauweiler & Partner. Contact details for Kraft and his lawyer weren’t immediately available.

— With assistance by Sarah Syed

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