A drug maker in the region has named a long-time tobacco industry executive as its next president and CEO.
Dublin-based Perrigo — which has its North American headquarters in Allegan — said yesterday it hired Murray S. Kessler for the role, effective immediately.
Kessler most recently served as president, chair and CEO of Lorillard Tobacco Company from 2010 to 2015.
He replaces Uwe Roehrhoff, who has stepped down as president, CEO and board member.
Rolf Classon, board chair for Perrigo, said the change follows Perrigo’s decisions to separate the Rx pharmaceuticals business from the company and pursue a “consumer-focused strategy.”
“The board and Uwe mutually agreed the transition was in the best interest of the company, and given the previously announced separation of the Rx business, now is the appropriate time to make this change,” Classon said.
“The board determined that Murray is the right CEO for Perrigo’s consumer-focused strategy going forward. We are thankful for Uwe’s leadership, including the decision to separate the Rx business. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Classon said Kessler will use his three decades of experience “growing consumer products companies and managing businesses in a regulated environment” to help develop Perrigo’s next strategic plan.
“He has advanced corporate strategy through innovation, inorganic opportunities and continuous portfolio improvement,” Classon said. “We are confident that his track record in driving shareholder value and running highly successful businesses will advance Perrigo’s consumer strategy and help the company deliver on our commitments to consumers and customers.”
Kessler called his hiring a “rare opportunity to drive winning results.”
“My experience in working with highly regulated consumer products reinforces my belief in this opportunity, and it is for these reasons that I have chosen to once again take on the deep commitment of being a public company CEO,” Kessler said. “I look forward to working with the talented Perrigo leadership team and the board to put a plan in place that delivers long-term sustainable and reliable growth.”
At Lorillard Tobacco Company, Kessler spearheaded the company’s expansion into new and emerging categories, growing Lorillard’s market capitalization from about $9 billion to about $28 billion during his tenure.
Before joining Lorillard, Kessler served as vice chair of Altria — a corporation that produces and markets tobacco, cigarettes and related products — and as president and CEO of UST, a subsidiary of Altria since 2009.
Kessler joined UST in 2000 and was promoted to the role of division president within one year.
In 2005, he became COO of UST and served as CEO from 2007 to 2009.
During his tenure, market capitalization grew from about $2.5 billion to about $12.7 billion.
Before joining UST, Kessler had more than 18 years of consumer packaged goods experience with several companies, including Vlasic Foods International, Campbell Soup Company and The Clorox Company.
He holds a B.B.A. from Villanova University and an M.B.A. from the New York University Stern School of Business.
Perrigo Company (NYSE: PRGO), a global over-the-counter consumer goods and pharmaceutical company, was founded in Allegan in 1887 as a packager of generic home remedies.
Now headquartered in Dublin, Perrigo makes OTC products and supplies infant formulas and topical medications across a variety of product categories and geographies in North America, Europe and Australia, as well as Israel and China.
The company reported net revenue of $4.9 billion in 2017.