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Miles White: Reformulating Abbott


In Business This Week: Headliner

Miles White: Reformulating Abbott

Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White had to resort to tea and honey after losing his voice, but that barely slowed him down as he went about selling Abbott's $7.3 billion acquisition of ALZA to investors. Early signs were that Wall Street was somewhat hesitant about the price paid for the deal, designed to bolster the $12.5 billion company's drug pipeline with new oncology, urology, and drug-delivery products. "I'm not yet sure ALZA was the right move to make," says SG Cowen analyst Michael Mullen.

Still, the deal, announced June 21, showed that the maker of antibiotics, infant formula, diagnostic gear, and AIDS drugs is stirring after White, 44, succeeded Duane Burnham early this year. The ex-McKinsey consultant joined Abbott in 1984 and headed Abbott's diagnostics unit, where he engineered the 1996 acquisition of MediSense. White insists the ALZA deal will boost Abbott's lagging earnings within a year. And, he says, more deals are ahead: "There are a lot of things I'd like to strengthen." Including his voice, of course.By Richard Melcher; Edited by Kelley HollandReturn to top

"I'll Take 1,000 Shares of NASDAQ"

Wanna buy some NASDAQ stock--stock in NASDAQ itself, that is? The National Association of Securities Dealers is discussing plans to convert to a for-profit exchange, CEO Frank Zarb said on June 23. NASD would first spin off its regulatory arm. NASDAQ stock then would be sold, first to NASD's broker-dealer members and then the public. The move would raise capital for new technology to meet competition from electronic-trading networks. But NASD officials are backing away from another innovation: after-hours trading. They're hoping a June 30 Securities & Exchange Commission summit will persuade regulators to stall electronic upstarts that want to launch evening trading in July. "Extended hours shouldn't be implemented piecemeal," says Zarb, who wants NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange to launch a second shift sometime in 2000.Edited by Kelley HollandReturn to top

Who's Disabled? The Court Rules

Employers won big on June 22: The Supreme Court ruled in three cases that a federal ban on discrimination against the disabled doesn't cover individuals with correctable conditions. The cases involved two nearsighted pilots who were denied employment by United Airlines, a mechanic with high blood pressure fired by United Parcel Service, and a truck driver denied a job because he was blind in one eye. The companies said the plaintiffs were unsuitable for the jobs, but could not be deemed disabled. Employment lawyer Peter Petesch, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the Society for Human Resource Management, says the ruling "places some appropriate limits on the pool of persons who are protected under this law."Edited by Kelley HollandReturn to top

Altering the Mix at McKesson

Drug distributor McKesson HBOC is undergoing radical surgery. On June 21, the company said Chairman Charles McCall and six other top execs had resigned or been dismissed. It named insiders John Hammergren and David Mahoney to be co-CEOs. The move follows McKesson's April disclosure of improperly recorded revenues at its newly acquired health-care software maker, HBO & Co. First step for the co-CEOs is to complete a financial audit. "Nothing can be done about restoring Wall Street credibility until we have the baseline [assessment]," Mahoney says.Edited by Kelley HollandReturn to top


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