Bristol-Myers says COO Caforio to take over as CEO

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) will soon have a new CEO. Chief Operating Officer Giovanni Caforio will take over the top exec job on May 5, when 64-year-old Lamberto Andreotti steps down from the role he has held for 5 years and takes over instead as executive chairman of the board.

Lamberto Andreotti

"I also want to express my excitement that Giovanni has been appointed to succeed me as CEO," Andreotti said in statement released by BMS late Tuesday. "I have a high level of confidence in Giovanni that is shared by everyone who has seen him consistently and successfully drive performance."

Dr. Giovanni Caforio

Caforio is a 15-year veteran of the company who started at BMS as vice president and general manager in Italy. He is a medical doctor who got his MD from the University of Rome and started in the industry in medical affairs at Abbott Laboratories ($ABT). He has held a number of roles at BMS, including in its global oncology group, where he is said to have helped build its acknowledged leadership role in immuno-oncology.

That is the company's beacon right now and the reason that JP Morgan analysts recently told investors they should be interested in BMS in 2015. They said that while the drugmaker's shares have already escalated on the anticipated immuno-oncology sales from Yervoy and the newly FDA-approved Opdivo, they see "the potential for further upside to this figure (and BMY shares) from a number of important updates."

It will be up to Caforio to make the most of this upside potential, but it was Andreotti who put the pieces into place. For his efforts he has been highly compensated, hitting $20.85 million in total compensation in 2013, making him the third best-paid biopharma CEO. There have been some stumbles with the successes. He was in charge for the acquisition of Amylin Pharmaceuticals ($AMLN) to expand a diabetes partnership with AstraZeneca ($AZN), then promptly bailed out of that partnership in 2013. The company scrapped a few development programs as well, including early hepatitis C work and neuroscience.

- here's the release

Special Report: 15 Highest-Paid Biopharma CEOs of 2013 - 3. Lamberto Andreotti - Bristol-Myers Squibb