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Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO steps down, replaced by COO

Bristol-Myers 2013 Earnings Forecast Beats EstimatesBristol-Myers 2013 Earnings Forecast Beats Estimates
Lamberto AndreottiBloomberg--Getty Images

Bristol-Myers Squibb, the New York-based pharmaceutical colossus, said Tuesday that CEO Lamberto Andreotti will step down this summer, to be replaced by COO Giovanni Caforio.

Andreotti, who was named CEO in 2010, plans to retire August 3, soon after his 65th birthday. A company spokesperson told Fortune that the CEO’s resignation was a voluntary decision, and that Andreotti plans to “devote more time to his personal life.” After relinquishing the CEO post, he will become Bristol-Myers’ chairman.

The succession plan is familiar to Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), and smoother than some of its past leadership changes. The outgoing chairman, James Cornelius, also previously served as the company’s CEO, taking on the job after his predecessor, Peter Dolan, was fired amid a patent dispute in 2006.

Since Andreotti assumed the CEO role, Bristol-Myers shares (BMY) have gained about 196%, compared to 90% for the S&P 500. Year to date, the stock is up almost 6%, while the benchmark index is down nearly 2%.

Succeeding Andreotti is Giovanni Caforio, Bristol-Myers’ current COO, who has worked at the company since 2000. Like his predecessor, Caforio, 50, was born in Italy. A doctor by training, Caforio helped lead Bristol-Myers recent efforts to refocus its drug portfolio on a new field of cancer medicine known as immuno-oncology, and oversaw the sale of its diabetes business to AstraZeneca in 2013.

“I have a high level of confidence in Giovanni that is shared by everyone who has seen him consistently and successfully drive performance. He has an unmatched breadth and depth of experience,” Andreotti said in a statement. “Giovanni has demonstrated a unique ability to work across the organization to bring innovative medicines to patients.”

In December, Bristol-Myers became one of the first companies to receive FDA approval for a new and highly anticipated type of cancer therapy known as PD-1. The drug, known as Opdivo, is approved to treat melanoma skin cancer, and has also shown encouraging results in advanced trials for the treatment of lung cancer.

With annual revenue of about $16 billion, Bristol-Myers is smaller than some of its Big Pharma rivals, such as Merck (with expected 2014 sales of $42.3 billion), Pfizer (49.3 billion) and Eli Lilly (19.7 billion).

“The company is in a strong position both financially and operationally at this time,” said the Bristol-Myers spokesperson, who added that it makes this a perfect time for Andreotti to step down.