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CEO rebuffed Pfizer plan, source says

A SUDDEN DEPARTURE Jeffrey Kindler (left) was succeeded by Ian Read, who had been in line to be chief operating officer. A SUDDEN DEPARTURE
Jeffrey Kindler (left) was succeeded by Ian Read, who had been in line to be chief operating officer.
Bloomberg News / December 8, 2010

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NEW YORK — Jeffrey Kindler resigned as Pfizer Inc.’s chief executive after he refused to name a head of operations as part of a plan agreed to by senior managers in September, said a person familiar with the proceedings. He quit hours before a board meeting was scheduled on Sunday to discuss his future, the person said.

Ian C. Read was named to replace him.

Senior executives had agreed Read should be named chief operating officer, said two people who asked not to be named. That appointment never happened.

Kindler lost support of executives frustrated with his management style, one of the people said. While Pfizer faces complex policy decisions, Kindler was focused on micromanaging his executives, the person said.

Shares of Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, have dropped 35 percent since Kindler, formerly Pfizer’s general counsel, was named chief executive in July 2006.

Pfizer declined to comment.

Read has been head of Pfizer’s global pharmaceutical operations since 2006, controlling 85 percent of revenue.

Over the next five years, Pfizer faces generic competition to products with $20 billion in annual sales, or almost a third of the company’s annual revenue.