May 9, 2008 / 6:52 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Zimmer chief marketing officer to leave company

(Recasts, adds stock activity, analyst comment)

CHICAGO, May 9 (Reuters) - Orthopedic device maker Zimmer Holdings Inc ZMH.N said on Friday its chief marketing officer, Sheryl Conley, would leave the company effective May 16.

In a government filing, the company said it has implemented a restructuring that eliminates the position of chief marketing officer.

Zimmer shares tumbled as much as 5 percent in active trading ahead of the filing and then pared losses. The shares were down $2.12, or 3 percent, to $69.08 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tim Nelson, an analyst with FAF Advisors, said it was likely that Conley’s departure was related to worry about Zimmer’s hip product Durom.

“There’s concern the product will be recalled ... but we’re a long way from figuring that out,” Nelson said.

A Zimmer spokesman declined to comment when asked about the possibility of a recall.

At a recent investor conference, Zimmer acknowledged the challenges it was having with the device.

“Zimmer did note that they could not rule out” a warning letter from regulators regarding an orthopedic surgery product or other matter, Cowen & Co analyst Doug Schenkel wrote in a recent research note.

A prominent orthopedic surgeon had reported high rates of revision using the Zimmer hip device.

Zimmer told investors at the conference that it took the doctor’s concerns seriously and would investigate with him. But it also said it had not had reports of similar rates of revision elsewhere in the United States.

A similar issue with the product in France was found to be technique-related, not product-related, the company said. (Reporting by Debra Sherman; editing by John Wallace)

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