Pfizer announced that Chief Financial Officer Alan Levin has resigned to pursue career opportunities outside the company. The stunning news came at the same time the embattled drug maker announced that John LaMattina, president of Pfizer Global Research and Development, will retire by the end of the year.
In a press released issued late Sunday night, Pfizer noted that Levin agreed to continue as CFO while the pharmaceutical company conducts a search for a new finance chief. Further, Pfizer officials noted that LaMattina will begin a search both inside and outside the company for his successor, and also has agreed to remain during this period to ensure a smooth transition.
Pfizer Vice Chairman — and one-time CFO — David Shedlarz, called Levin “a world-class financial executive.” Shedlarz commented that Levin “served with distinction in our treasury and finance operations and led initiatives to make them into [c]enters of [e]xcellence, bringing a broad and deep understanding of all aspects of global finance, as well as the highest degree of integrity, to every assignment.”
Shortly after the announcement was made, Levin’s bio was removed from Pfizer’s website. Levin, who joined Pfizer in 1987, had only served as CFO since March 2005. In the announcement, Shedlarz asserted that in the last several years, Levin played a key role in leveraging the company’s financial strength “on behalf of Pfizer shareholders through our share repurchase program and enhanced dividend.” However, The Wall Street Journal speculated that Levin was removed to bring in a finance chief with more visibility and experience on Wall Street.
Recently, Pfizer has been criticized for its weak product pipeline, in part due to its emphasis on discovering blockbuster drugs. Also, in April a Pfizer agreed to pay a $19.68 million fine after pleading guilty in federal court to offering a kickback to a pharmacy benefit manager in exchange for getting a higher ranking on a list of pharmaceutical recommendations. As part of its sentencing the Pfizer unit, Pharmacia and Upjohn Co., can no longer participate in federal health-care programs. Pfizer acquired the company four years ago.