Wyeth CFO to resign after high-profile term

Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:48pm EDT

(Adds CFO quotes, details, byline, previous dateline BOSTON)

By Ransdell Pierson

NEW YORK, April 27 (Reuters) - Wyeth WYE.N said on Friday that Kenneth Martin, its chief financial officer for the past seven years, will leave the company at the end of June to pursue personal interests.

The drugmaker said it plans to name a new CFO before the departure of Martin, who also serves as vice chairman. He joined Wyeth in 1984 and has been chief financial officer since 2000.

Martin, known for his grasp of detail and informal manner, has been one of the industry's most visible chief financial officers. He has been the voice of the company in many company conference calls with industry analysts and journalists.

"I had seven great years in the CFO chair at Wyeth; it was an exciting time to be a part of the management team, but now it is important to me and to my family to pursue some other interests," Martin said in a statement provided by Wyeth.

Martin has helped company Chief Executive Bob Essner shepherd Wyeth back to stability following the company's recall in 1997 of two diet drugs once used in the "fen-phen" slimming cocktail. The appetite suppressants were pulled after being linked to heart-valve damage.

The vast majority of product-liability lawsuits filed against the company by former users of the diet drugs, Redux and Pondimin, have been settled. But the cost to Wyeth has exceeded $21 billion.

As fen-phen has slowly faded from view, investors have focused instead on Wyeth's competitive profit growth and respected pipeline of experimental medicines.

Another company vice chairman, Bernard Poussot, in January was promoted to chief operating officer and also elected to Wyeth's board of directors. Poussot oversees the company's pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare and animal health operations.

Company shares have risen 13.8 percent in the past 12 months, in line with a 12.5 percent gain for the American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index .DRG of large U.S. and European drugmakers.

"As I prepare to leave, I'm glad to see the company in such strong financial shape, as evidenced by the solid first quarter results," Martin said. Company earnings rose a better-than-expected 12 percent in the period.

Shares of Wyeth were down 1.3 percent to $55.25 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, amid a decline of about 0.6 percent for the drug sector.

(Additional reporting by Toni Clarke in Boston)

((Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Dave Zimmerman; Reuters Messaging: ransdell.pierson.reuters.com@reuters.net; 646-223-6034; ransdell.pierson@reuters.com)) Keywords: WYETH/

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