Shire taps ex-investment banker Susan Kilsby to chair its board

Susan Kilsby
Susan Kilsby--Courtesy of Shire

There's movement at the top of Shire ($SHPG). With CEO Flemming Ornskov about a year into his job, the specialty drugmaker has tapped Susan Kilsby to be its new chairwoman. She will replace Matthew Emmens, Shire's former CEO and chairman since 2008, who is retiring.

Shire has all but remade itself since Emmens joined the company in 2003. From a small, ADHD-focused drugmaker, Shire has expanded into dermatology, rare diseases, ophthalmology and other fields--though not always successfully. Ornskov unveiled his own plans for refocusing the company last year, with layoffs, cost cuts and R&D shifts. Just last week, the company unloaded its wound-care product Dermagraft at a $650 million loss.

The choice of Kilsby, a former investment banker, to head up the board may be part of Shire's ongoing bid to grow via M&A. The company snapped up several smaller pharma businesses last year, and Ornskov has promised more to come. Often rumored as a takeover target itself, Shire has adopted a poison pill to fend off unwanted buyers.

Shire's latest buyout has hit a snag, however: After promising to wrap up a $4.2 billion ViroPharma ($VPHM) buyout by the end of 2013, Shire has since extended its $50-per-share bid twice. The offer now expires today; no word yet whether Shire yet has enough shares to proceed.

- see the release from Shire

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