April 4, 2018 / 7:20 AM / a year ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-Smith & Nephew picks new CEO who sold his last company

(Adds picture link, details on new CEO, industry context)

LONDON, April 4 (Reuters) - Artificial hip and knee maker Smith & Nephew, a perennial target of takeover speculation, said on Wednesday it had appointed a new chief executive with a track record of deal-making.

Namal Nawana, who will replace Olivier Bohuon as CEO of the British company next month, most recently headed medical diagnostics firm Alere, where he oversaw its $5.3 billion sale to Abbott in 2017.

Smith & Nephew Chairman Roberto Quarta said Nawana had “demonstrated that he can energise businesses to deliver better performance and greater value to shareholders.”

The medical technology firm, which also has wound-care and sports medicine units, is under pressure to improve margins and find new sources of growth as it competes with bigger rivals.

Its shares have long been propped up by takeover talk, amid speculation it could be acquired by a U.S. competitor such as Stryker or be broken up. Smith & Nephew has a market value of around $16 billion.

Nawana will take over from Bohuon, who said in October he would leave before the end of 2018, on May 7. His base salary will be $1.54 million a year.

Nawana is a veteran of the medical devices industry, having previously spent more than 15 years at Johnson & Johnson . In 2011, he was appointed worldwide president of J&J’s DePuy Synthes Spine unit, where he oversaw integration of Synthes following its acquisition in 2012.

He joined Alere as chief operating officer in December 2012, before being promoted to CEO. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler and Paul Sandle; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)

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