AP News

Forest Labs names Bausch & Lomb's Saunders as CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Drug developer Forest Laboratories Inc. has picked the former leader of optical products maker Bausch & Lomb Inc. to become its next CEO, a choice backed by activist investor Carl Icahn.

Forest, based in New York, said Tuesday that Brenton L. Saunders, 43, will become president and CEO on Oct. 1. He will replace long-standing CEO Howard Solomon, who announced plans to retire earlier this year.

Saunders has been a Forest director since August 2011. He served as Bausch & Lomb CEO from 2010 until last month. Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought Bausch & Lomb, one of the world's best-known makers of contact lenses, for $8.7 billion in August.

Before Bausch & Lomb, Saunders held several executive positions with the drugmaker Schering-Plough, which Merck & Co. purchased in 2009.

Solomon, who became CEO in 1977, will remain chairman until the company's annual meeting next year, when Saunders is expected to add that role.

Forest, which makes the Alzheimer's disease treatment Namenda and the depression and anxiety drug Lexapro, had said it expected to name Solomon's successor before the end of the year.

In June, Forest seated a new board member selected by Icahn and averted a fight over company control. Icahn had criticized company management and demanded more information about its plans to replace Solomon.

The new board member, Vincent Intrieri, became part of a committee overseeing succession plans.

In a press release Tuesday Icahn said Forest's choice provides cause for optimism, and that Saunders did impressive work at Bausch & Lomb and Schering-Plough.

Shares of Forest added 14 cents to close at $43.56. The stock price has advanced about 25 percent so far this year.

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