Immucor

(BLUD)

said its chief executive has temporarily stepped aside while Italian authorities conduct a criminal investigation of an Immucor subsidiary that the CEO once directed.

Shares of Immucor, which makes blood-testing chemicals and equipment, dropped $2.62, or 8.6%, to $27.80 after the announcement. The stock fell as low as $24.95. More than 2 million shares changed hands, about six times the average daily volume.

Immucor, based in Norcross, Ga., said Dr. Gioacchino De Chirico will not act as chief executive during the company's internal investigation of the matter, but he will retain the title of president. Edward L. Gallup, chairman of the board, will assume the CEO duties on an interim basis.

De Chirico was formerly president of the subsidiary that is being investigated by police in Milan, Italy. According to Immucor, the investigation involves activities of a physician and a hospital administrator, including allegations that several companies made cash payments to the doctor in exchange for favorable contracts awards by the hospital.

"The company is fully cooperating with the investigation in Italy," Immucor said in a Tuesday press release. The board also is "taking steps to strengthen financial controls in its European operations," Immucor said.