Can ex-Actavis CEO Paul Bisaro work his growth magic at Impax?

Paul Bisaro
Paul Bisaro will replace Impax interim CEO J. Kevin Buchi, who took the helm in December.

Longtime generics chief Paul Bisaro is ready to be back in charge. After handing over both the CEO and chairman reins at the company now known as Allergan, the industry vet is taking the helm at Impax Labs.

Bisaro will step in immediately for interim skipper J. Kevin Buchi, who took over in December after Fred Wilkinson stepped down, Impax said in a Monday statement.

Bisaro is taking on a company that's standing at a crossroads, with shares trading at levels not seen since 2010, generic competition stepping up and pricing on the downswing. And investors cheered his appointment: the stock had vaulted 22% at press time.

That's a testament to Bisaro's experience in the business and his record of growth at Actavis. He comes to the table with 25 years of know-how, expertise he put into play while building Actavis into a top-tier generics maker, partly through M&A. A rapid-fire series of deals over the last several years included Warner Chilcott and Forest Laboratories—and, of course, Allergan, which Actavis stole from Valeant's clutches.

Bisaro, who continues to serve on Allergan’s board of directors, only recently vacated the chairman’s spot at the company he helped build. His October step-aside capped the Dublin drugmaker’s transition to a brands-only company, an initiative carried out by Bisaro’s CEO successor, Brent Saunders. 

And a little M&A is exactly what Impax may need right now. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the California company had brought on Morgan Stanley to help it conduct a strategic review and weigh options for buying a rival or selling itself.

It’s a path that many of its generics peers have taken lately to boost their bargaining leverage and cut costs in the face of waning pricing power. Industry leader Teva, for one, has followed that approach, taking the Actavis generics unit off Allergan’s hands for $40.5 billion. Fellow giant Sandoz, a division of Novartis, has flirted recently with some deal action; it reportedly was eying a deal for Amneal last year. And Mylan, the last major player in the copycat trifecta, last year bulked up with a $5.7 billion deal for Abbott Laboratories' ex-U.S. generics business.