With Pfizer set to buy Hospira, what's in the future for CEO F. Michael Ball?

F. Michael Ball

In four years as CEO of Hospira ($HSP), F. Michael Ball has moved the company from its quality quagmire and a stock price collapse to an injectable drug leader and biosimilar player significant enough to be a prize worthy of a $15 billion buyout offer from Pfizer ($PFE). People who make predictions about these kinds of things say Ball's rehab of Hospira would make him in big demand to run another company in need of a makeover.

Ball's future was not lined out in the companies' announcements of the deal Thursday, but Kevin Kedra, an analyst at Gabelli told Crain's Chicago Business that, "Given the job he's done here, I would think he'd be very much in demand."

Ian Read

Hospira will provide significant heft to Pfizer's established products division, a unit that Pfizer CEO Ian Read created in an organizational maneuver last year. Analysts have been thinking a spinoff of that unit might be in order. If that happened, Ball might be picked as CEO of it.

Ball became Hospira CEO in March 2011, a year after the FDA issued warning letters against two of its key plants and investors were in revolt as its stock price fell by 50%. The company recently settled investor suits that linked those two issues. While Hospira continues to deal with FDA regulatory concerns at plants here and abroad, production is up and, as Crain's points out, so is its stock price. It has climbed more than 60% over the course of the year. While Ball's 2014 compensation package has yet to be filed by Hospira, in 2013, his hard work was rewarded with nearly $10 million in salary and benefits.

But the 57-year-old Canadian's experience is not limited to simply fixing things. He came to Hospira from Botox maker and specialty drug company Allergan ($AGN), which itself is about to go from independent company to an Actavis ($ACT) operation. He spent 16 years in working in international sales, eye care and other areas, 6 of those as president of the company. Those are the kinds of experiences that could serve him well at any number of companies and one analyst tells Crain's that is what he expects.

"I would be really shocked to see him stay on at Hospira," Michael Waterhouse, an analyst at Chicago-based Morningstar told the publication.

- read the Crain's Chicago story

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