New CEO takes the helm at biotech giant Amgen

AP News
Posted: May 23, 2012 6:30 PM
New CEO takes the helm at biotech giant Amgen

Biotech drugmaker Amgen Inc. introduced new CEO Bob Bradway to shareholders Wednesday at the company's annual meeting, with retiring CEO Kevin Sharer stepping down after a decade running the world's largest biotech company.

At the meeting, Amgen stockholders also voted against all four shareholder proposals up for consideration. Those included bids to separate the board chairman and CEO positions, which was supported by 42 percent of shares voted, and to limit the CEO to serving on only one other company's board, which was supported by only 4 percent of shares voted.

They also voted against requiring disclosure of lobbying policies and practices and requiring an annual report on handling of animals in testing of experimental drugs and plans to promote alternatives to animal testing.

The shareholders, meeting at a hotel in Westlake Village, Calif., elected all 14 board members, with each getting at least 92 percent of the votes. They also approved Ernst & Young as Amgen's accountant.

A nonbinding "Say-on Pay" proposal, approving compensation for Amgen's executives, won 87 percent of votes cast. Sharer received $18.9 million in total compensation last year, and Bradway got $7.1 million, according to the company's proxy filing. Both amounts were down slightly from 2010 levels. Amgen noted it modified compensation programs last year to reflect stockholder concerns and better align pay with performance.

Shareholders backed a board-sponsored proposal to amend Amgen's certificate of incorporation to authorize stockholder action by written consent. About 70 percent of outstanding shares were cast for that proposal. Shareholders of a few other drugmakers, including Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., made similar proposals this spring, but their boards opposed the changes and they were voted down.

Amgen, which is based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., said votes representing about 87 percent of outstanding shares were cast.

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Amgen sells injected drugs Enbrel, for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, Prolia for osteoporosis and anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen.

Bradway, who had been the chief operating officer, becomes Amgen's fourth CEO. Sharer will stay on as chairman of the board until Dec. 31. Amgen said in a statement that the board intends to elect Bradway as chairman at year's end.

Bradway is one of several new leaders at Amgen. Among the other recent executive changes at the company, Dr. Michael Severino was promoted in February to chief medical officer and senior vice president for global development. He replaced Dr. Sean Harper, who was promoted to executive vice president for research and development. Harper replaced longtime R&D head Roger Perlmutter, who retired.

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