Vertex Pharmaceuticals Fires Interim CFO for ‘Personal Behavior’

The company said Ian Smith violated its code of conduct and the dismissal was unrelated to the company’s financial and business performance.
William SprouseJanuary 24, 2019
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Fires Interim CFO for ‘Personal Behavior’

Ian Smith, the interim chief financial officer of Boston-based biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals, has been fired for unspecified violations of the company’s code of conduct.

“Mr. Smith’s termination is the result of personal behavior that violated Vertex’s code of conduct and values and is unrelated to the company’s financial and business performance,” Vertex said in a statement. “The company and the board made this determination following a prompt and comprehensive investigation conducted with the assistance of independent external counsel, WilmerHale.”

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The company said it will still report its fourth quarter and full year 2018 financial results after the financial markets close on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Smith, who was also chief operating officer, had replaced former CFO Tom Graney, who left Vertex in December. The company named Paul Silva, its corporate controller and chief accounting officer, interim CFO effective immediately, while it conducted a formal search to identify a permanent replacement.

“At Vertex, we are deeply committed to our culture of diversity, inclusion, and respect, and we insist that all of our employees, regardless of their seniority, live our values and adhere to our Code of Conduct,” chairman and CEO Jeffrey Leiden said. “This decision was not related to any conduct concerning the company’s operations or finances.”

In a note to clients, Geoffrey Porges, an analyst at Leerink Partners, said Smith’s departure would likely rattle investors. Smith “had been a fixture at the company for more than 17 years, and in our view had in many ways been the architect of the company’s financial performance and success. Investors will be alarmed by this surprising news,” Porges said.

Porges said he did not expect the firing to impact financial results going forward.

The company had a valuation of more than $48 billion at its closing price on Wednesday.