Oxygen Biotherapeutics CEO Stern gets the heave-ho

Shares of Oxygen Biotherapeutics tanked after the Morrisville, NC-based biotech announced that CEO Chris Stern had been unceremoniously pushed out for unexplained reasons. The developer ($OXBT) informed the SEC that Stern had been dismissed with cause, but didn't say what the cause was.

In a release issued after the markets closed yesterday, Oxygen noted that Stern's departure was effective immediately and that "under the circumstances" he would receive no severance. An Oxygen spokeswoman told Pharmalot's Ed Silverman that whatever had happened was spotted in "an internal investigation and discovered through internal controls and procedures."

CFO Michael Jebsen was hastily tapped as interim CEO. And he quickly moved to try and calm any startled investors by citing a recent $4.6 million raise. "In light of our recent June financing," he announced in a company release, "we are in a stable financial position to pursue our development programs and move forward."

Investors weren't so easy to convince, though, as shares quickly plunged 26%. Stern took the helm at Oxygen after the death of Robert Larsen and soon after relocated to North Carolina after deciding to leave California. The biotech develops medical and cosmetic products that deliver oxygen to body tissues.

"We will move swiftly, but deliberately, in our search for a new CEO," said Rene Eckert, interim chairman. "We are fortunate to have Michael and believe that he has the knowledge, ability and sound judgment to lead our company during this transition period. Our board remains in strong support of the company and we believe we have the products and technology needed to advance the company to success."

- check out the Oxygen release
- here's the story from Pharmalot
- read the report from the Triangle Business Journal

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