Shire chief prepares to hand over reins to hand-picked successor

Shire CEO Angus Russell's 13-year stint at the helm has provided a classic case study on how to efficiently build a biotech company. He's capitalized on a blockbuster ADHD drug, added new divisions to the company for regenerative medicine and genetic therapies and struck some two dozen buyouts to piece together a global operation, blueprinting two new campuses along the way for the East and West Coast of the U.S.

Now he's carefully lined up a successor designated to carry on with the work at Shire ($SHPG) after he steps aside. 

The CEO-to-be is Flemming Ornskov, a Bayer exec who has headed up marketing operations after running franchises as the well-respected Novartis. Before that, he had run biotech companies.

Russell is credited with a very effective deals strategy, picking up new drugs for rare diseases when they were in late-stage development, avoiding high-risk early-stage development. And he got a big assist from rival Genzyme when that rare disease specialist ran into some severe manufacturing issues.

"When I joined it, we were this little specialist company that was like others, reformulating" medicines, Russell told reporters, according to a report from Bloomberg. "That became a model that wasn't sustainable. Then we got into rare genetic diseases. Now we're forging our own way."

- here's the press release
- get the Reuters story
- read the Bloomberg report

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