Lonza, the Swiss Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO), is once again on the hunt for a new CEO, marking the third CEO change in the last four years. Pierre-Alain Ruffieux, the current CEO, is set to step down at the end of this month, a decision described as “mutual agreement.” Albert Baehny, Lonza’s Chairman, will step into the interim CEO role for the second time since 2020.
Ruffieux’s departure comes after a relatively short tenure of less than three years. He joined Lonza from Roche in late 2020, with the company hoping that his leadership would bring stability to the CEO position. Lonza had previously faced leadership changes in 2019 when CEO Richard Ridinger retired suddenly, and Marc Funk, who was promoted to the role of CEO, lasted just nine months.
Following the announcement of Ruffieux’s departure, Lonza’s share price experienced a notable decline of 13%, dropping from $55.49 at the close of the market on Friday to $48.10 on Monday morning.
“Lonza has given limited detail on what prompted the abrupt CEO change, leaving us feeling incrementally worse about the company’s near-term outlook. Investors clearly share this sentiment, with the stock trading down.”
– Max Smock, William Blair analyst
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lonza gained significant attention for its role in manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines for Moderna. This contribution led to a surge in Lonza’s share price, rising from $33.40 to $83.50 by the end of 2021. However, the company has faced challenges since then, resulting in a decline in its share price.
“I am committed to Lonza, our employees and all stakeholders. While recent months have undoubtedly been challenging, the company is a global leader in our industry and has many opportunities for further growth across all our businesses. In the months ahead, I will ensure that we are optimally positioned to fully capture those opportunities and I look forward to working with my Board and Executive Committee colleagues.”
– Albert M. Baehny, Chairman, Lonza