Hospira's Begley to step down as CEO

Hospira (NYSE: HSP) announced this morning that Christopher Begley intends to retire as CEO after more than six years of service. Begley will serve as CEO until his successor is named and then remain as executive chairman of the Hospira board, the company says in a statement. Chief Operating Officer Terrence Kearney also announced he plans to retire by the end of the year.

Begley was company's founding CEO, overseeing Hospira's 2004 spin-off from Abbott Laboratories. In a statement, the company notes that during his tenure, Begley doubled Hospira's geographic footprint and revenue outside the U.S., improved adjusted gross margins by more than 1,000 basis points, generated more than $3 billion in cash flow from operations, and doubled its market capitalization.

Hospira's board has formed a search committee to identify Begley's successor, focusing on external candidates with strong healthcare backgrounds and experience leading large multinational companies.

In connection with Kearney's departure, the company says his operations-focused role will be filled internally. James Hardy, currently corporate VP, supply chain, will be named to the new role of senior VP, Operations, effective Dec. 31.

The company's shares closed Thursday at $52.15 and were inactive premarket, Dow Jones notes. However, the company led drug stocks lower early Friday as shares of the specialty drug maker fell on news of the retirements, MarketWatch reports.

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