surged Thursday after the company said it had hired as full-time chief executive Jean-Jacques Bienaime, the former CEO of
The Novato, Calif., drug company had been run by an interim CEO since last August after the resignation of Fredric Price. The interim CEO has been Louis Drapeau, who had been chief financial officer.
has been criticized by some shareholders, who have nominated three challengers to the company's board of directors. It wasn't immediately clear how the choice of a new CEO would affect the dispute between the shareholders and the company, which has nominated seven people for each board seat. BioMarin hasn't set a date for its annual meeting.
Bienaime, 51, resigned last month as chairman and CEO of Genencor International, after the biotechnology company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., was acquired by a Danish food ingredients company, Danisco.
BioMarin made the announcement at 30 minutes past midnight on the East Coast. The news eventually sent BioMarin's shares up 52 cents, or 8.1%, to $6.98 on heavy trading. By mid-afternoon, 1.1 million shares had been traded, more than triple the average daily trade.
"Over the past nine months ... we conducted an extensive search and interviewed multiple well-qualified candidates," said Pierre Lapalme, chairman of BioMarin. "We are delighted to have Mr. Bienaime join our team." Bienaime, whose appointment takes effect immediately, will also be a BioMarin director.
Prior to taking the top jobs at Genencor in November 2002, Bienaime was chairman and CEO of Sangstat Medical, a biotech company that was sold to
in September 2003. Previously, he held several management jobs at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceuticals, which is now part of
"The new CEO brings a successful track record," says Navdeep S. Jaikaria, of Rodman & Renshaw, in a Thursday report to clients upgrading his firm's rating to outperform from neutral. "We view this as a strong positive."
Jaikaria also says BioMarin is an "attractive" takeover target for any company seeking to move into certain niche markets affecting enzyme deficiency disorders. He doesn't own shares. His firm is a market maker in the stock.