Hospira names Allergan's Michael Ball as CEO

Bloomberg News
Updated 3/8/2011 9:00 AM
  • F. Michael Ball

    F. Michael Ball

Hospira Inc., a maker of generic injectible drugs, named Allergan Inc. President F. Michael Ball as chief executive officer starting March 28.

Ball, 55, will succeed Christopher Begley, Hospira's founding CEO, who will become executive chairman, the Lake Forest-based company said today in a statement. Allergan announced that David Pyott, its chief executive officer, will assume the role of president. Pyott served in both posts from 1998 to 2006, when Ball was promoted to president.

Ball has worked at Allergan, the maker of the Botox wrinkle smoother, since 1995, when he was hired as a senior vice president. The longtime Allergan executive brings credibility and a wide range of industry experience to Hospira, said Louise Chen, an analyst with Collins Stewart LLC in New York.

"This brings someone in with pharma, generic and device experience," Chen said yesterday in a telephone interview. "That's very important for the company because it's diversified. They have a great set of assets and they need a strong hand to run it."

Chen called the pick surprising and predicted that investors will react positively to the news. The stock declined 7.3 percent on Feb. 2, the most in two years, after forecasting 2011 profit that was less than analysts' estimates.

Begley, 58, said in August he would retire as Hospira's CEO and begin a search for a successor. He has run the company since Hospira spun off from Abbott Laboratories in 2004.

'Inspire' Employees

"The board and I were determined to identify a candidate who would extend Hospira's growth trajectory, expand our global reach, and inspire our employees as we continue our patient- focused journey to sustainable top-tier financial performance," Begley said in the company's statement. "We found the perfect fit with Mike Ball."

Hospira fell 82 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $53.32 at the close today of New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have declined 1.1 percent in the past 12 months.

Hospira said in January it would stop manufacturing sodium thiopental, a painkiller used as a first-stage sedative in executions by lethal injection. The Italian government said it would block export of the drug from a Hospira plant in Italy unless the company guaranteed the drug wouldn't be used in executions. Hospira is the lone U.S. producer of the painkiller.

The company expects U.S. regulators to make a decision on its generic version of Sanofi-Aventis SA's prostate cancer drug Taxotere in the first quarter of this year.