Forest Labs names ex-Bausch & Lomb head Saunders as CEO

(Reuters) - Forest Laboratories Inc on Tuesday said it named Brent Saunders, the former head of Bausch & Lomb Inc, as chief executive officer to replace its departing long-time leader, Howard Solomon.

The move comes after Forest wrangled with billionaire investor Carl Icahn for years and ultimately struck a deal with him that averted a proxy fight this summer.

Forest said Saunders would take on the role effective October 1, a bit earlier transition than initially announced in May when the company divulged that Solomon would be leaving at year’s end after his 35-year run at the helm. Saunders has been a director at Forest since August 2011.

Forest said then it was looking at internal and external candidates for CEO and Reuters reported that Saunders was seen as a candidate. In June, Forest agreed to appoint an independent director to its board chosen by Icahn, and Icahn abandoned the proxy fight he had planned.

Saunders had been Bausch & Lomb’s CEO from 2010 until last month and previously worked at Schering-Plough Corp, which was purchased by Merck & Co in 2009. Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals agreed to buy Bausch & Lomb for about $8.7 billion earlier this year.

Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Maureen Bavdek