said Thursday that Lawrence S. Olanoff has been named president and chief operating officer, replacing Kenneth E. Goodman, who retired from daily management but will remain a director.
Olanoff, 54, also will join the board. Goodman, 58, is a 26-year veteran of Forest who has been COO since December 1998. Olanoff, who had been president and CEO of
since July 2005, had been a top executive at Forest between 1995 and 2005, last serving as executive vice president for scientific affairs.
The management change caught the attention of Credit Suisse analyst Marc Goodman, who says "it was always assumed" that Kenneth Goodman would take the top jobs when Howard Solomon, 78, retired as chairman and CEO. Solomon has been Forest's CEO since 1977 and has been a board member since 1964.
"Ken Goodman has been a very strong leader for the company, and this is a material loss for the company," the Credit Suisse analyst tells clients in a research note. But the analyst adds that "it is our understanding that Ken Goodman has been considering this move for some time."
Credit Suisse, which has an outperform rating on Forest, says Olanoff is well respected within Forest. "Hence, we don't expect any missteps," the Credit Suisse report says.
Forest has been periodically rumored as a takeover candidate, and Credit Suisse speculates that the change in management makes a takeover "a higher likelihood than we had previously thought." The analyst doesn't own shares, but his firm expects to seek or receive investment-banking compensation from Forest in the next three months.
New York-based Forest's best-selling drugs are the antidepressant Lexapro and the Alzheimer's disease drug Namenda. Celsion, a biotechnology company based in Columbia, Md., is developing heat-activated treatments for cancer.
Celsion said Olanoff will continue to serve on its board. The company said Anthony P. Deasey, its chief operating officer and chief financial officer, has been appointed interim CEO. He also will join the Celsion board.
By late afternoon, shares of Forest were off 70 cents, or 1.5%, to $46.13 on heavier-than-average trading. Shares of Celsion dropped 45 cents, or 17.3%, to $2.15.