Forest Laboratories, an international pharmaceutical company, announced that Howard Solomon will retire as chief executive officer and president, effective December 31, 2013. Solomon has served as CEO since 1977, chairman since 1998 and president since 2010.
Subject to the same nominating and election processes annually as all directors, Solomon is expected to remain as chairman through the 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM), at which time another chairman will be elected. Solomon will retain the title of chairman emeritus after the 2014 AGM and has agreed to serve as senior advisor to Forest Labs following his retirement as CEO and president.
An independent committee of Forest's board has been engaged in a succession planning process, including evaluating internal and external candidates. With Solomon's retirement announcement, the board has determined to bring the process to a close and expects to name a successor before the end of the year. The committee is being assisted by Spencer Stuart, a leading executive search firm.
"On behalf of the Board and the entire company, we would like to express our appreciation for Howard's dedication, strategic vision and immeasurable contributions to Forest and its shareholders for nearly 50 years, 36 of those years as CEO,” said Kenneth E. Goodman, presiding independent director. “Under Howard's leadership, Forest has evolved from a small-scale producer of vitamin pills into an innovative and fully integrated pharmaceutical company with a market capitalization of over $10 billion and a proud history of innovation, strong execution and delivering value for shareholders. Today, with the launches of a new generation of products, all advanced under Howard's stewardship, Forest is positioned to build on this success. We are delighted that Howard is available to continue to serve Forest as chairman through to the 2014 annual meeting."
Solomon said, "Above all, I do deeply love Forest and so many of its executives and employees with whom I have worked for so many years. It is thanks to the support and tireless effort of our extraordinarily talented employees, past and present, that we have been able to build a dynamic company with a diversified product portfolio and late-stage pipeline that is truly unrivaled in the industry. We have many opportunities ahead. In the coming months, I look forward to working with the board and new CEO, when identified, on a seamless handover of my responsibilities and to continuing my service to Forest as a board member and senior advisor."
Solomon began his career as an attorney at leading law firms in New York and joined Forest in 1964 as a director and secretary of the board, while serving as outside counsel for the company. He became CEO of Forest in 1977 and chairman in 1998. He is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian Hospital and previously served on the board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. Soloman is currently a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Opera and chairman of its finance committee, a director and former chairman of the New York City Ballet and a director emeritus of Lincoln Center.