Straumann Holding AG (STMN), the world’s biggest maker of dental implants, named former finance chief Marco Gadola as chief executive officer, replacing Beat Spalinger after sales and earnings declined.
Gadola, 49, will begin the job before April, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. Chairman Gilbert Achermann will serve as interim CEO until Gadola rejoins the company, Straumann said. Gadola is currently CEO for Asia Pacific at Panalpina Welttransport Holding AG. (PWTN) Straumann shares rose the most in a month.
“The dental markets have become increasingly challenging, squeezing topline and profitability,” Achermann said in the statement. “To take the organization forward requires specific leadership qualities and impulses at top level, and we believe Marco Gadola is the right person to do this.”
Straumann shares tumbled 56 percent in Spalinger’s 2 1/2 years as CEO. Sales dropped about 6 percent in 2011, and analysts predict they rose 0.4 last year, based on the average estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
Straumann rose 3.2 percent to 117.80 francs in Zurich, giving the company a market value of 1.85 billion francs ($1.97 billion). It was the stock’s biggest advance since Dec. 3.
The recession and unemployment prompted consumers to cut back on discretionary spending. Dental implants typically are paid for out of pocket by patients. Straumann has also been hurt by the strength of the Swiss franc against other major currencies.
Under Spalinger, Straumann put in place a long-term strategic plan known as Vision for 2020, and in October announced an effort to reduce the workforce by 6 percent and improve profit margins, said Oliver Metzger, an analyst at Commerzbank.
“We are surprised about the change in management, especially as it will be effective immediately,” Metzger wrote in a note to clients today. He has a reduce rating on the stock.
Spalinger, who was CFO from 2008 to 2010, left “by mutual agreement with the board,” according to Straumann’s statement. He helped the company navigate “through economic recession, market contraction and currency headwind,” the company said.
“He managed the company with a steady hand in what has been very challenging markets over the past few years,” Lisa Bedell Clive, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London, said in a report today. Still, profit margins declined on his watch, she said. Clive has a “market perform” rating on Straumann shares.
Gadola served as Straumann’s CFO and executive vice president for operations from 2006 to 2008, when he left to join Panalpina, a freight forwarder.
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