Stada CEO officially resigns with company control hanging in the balance

It’s official: Longtime Stada CEO Hartmut Retzlaff is hanging up his hat.

Monday, the company announced that Retzlaff--who took a leave of absence in early June for health reasons--would officially resign from his post on the company’s management board. He’ll pocket a severance payment and will continue to receive his salary until the end of this year, the company said.

Retzlaff has been leading the German drugmaker since 1992, and company chairman Martin Abend thanked him in a statement “for setting a clear course.”

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But for Stada--on which activist pressure is currently mounting--some would argue the course is anything but clear. The Bad Vilbel-based company has been sparring with proxy brawler Active Ownership Capital since this spring, and the two players have put forth competing board rosters for investors to decide on later this month.

And Active Ownership isn’t the only shareholder laying the pressure on Stada. Earlier this month, U.S. based-rebel investor Guy Wyser-Pratte spoke out in favor of a sale--in particular, a sale to CVC Capital Partners, with which it’s already reportedly held informal takeover talks. Stada, though, has denied holding any such talks.

Meanwhile, interim helmsman Matthias Wiedenfels has his own ideas about how to run the company, and they’ve been playing out since Retzlaff first stepped away. He’s already stripped Retzlaff’s son, Steffen, of some of his duties and fired a group of external advisers--moves that have only intensified Active Ownership’s calls for change.

"Should Mr. Retzlaff not return, it will surely be the task of the new supervisory board to overhaul the management board in a sensible fashion," Active Ownership partner Florian Schuhbauer recently told Reuters, noting Wiedenfels lacks the industry experience necessary to run the company.

- read the release

Special Report: Top 20 generics companies by 2014 revenue - Stada Arzneimittel

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