Kenneth C. Frazier to Retire as Merck CEO

Kenneth C. Frazier to Retire as Merck CEO

Merck has announced that Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), will retire as CEO, effective June 30, 2021. Frazier will continue to serve on Merck’s board of directors as executive chairman, for a transition period to be determined by the board. The Merck board of directors has unanimously elected Robert M. Davis, Merck’s current executive vice president, global services and chief financial officer, as CEO, as well as a member of the board, effective July 1, 2021. Davis will become president of Merck, effective April 1, 2021, at which time the company’s operating divisions—Human Health, Animal Health, Manufacturing, and Merck Research Laboratories—will begin reporting to him.


“The board and I are delighted that Rob will serve as Merck’s next CEO,” Frazier said. “He has deep knowledge of our company and industry and has been a valued strategic thought partner to me and the Merck senior management team as well as a highly capable finance leader. Rob has been instrumental in helping Merck take the right actions to adapt to the changing healthcare environment while remaining committed to investing in the scientific innovation that we expect will drive our future growth.”


Les Brun, Merck’s lead independent director, said, “On behalf of the entire Merck board, I thank Ken for his strong and highly principled leadership and his commitment to the company’s core values of scientific excellence, business integrity, patient focus, and respect for all people. Ken’s vision and courage to make difficult changes within Merck, while steadfastly investing in research and development, have positioned Merck well for sustainable future growth.”


“It has been a privilege to serve as Merck’s CEO for the past decade and to work with the most dedicated and talented employees and management team in the industry,” said Frazier. “As executive chairman, I look forward to collaborating with Rob and our board of directors to help Merck achieve even higher levels of success.”


Davis joined Merck as chief financial officer in 2014. In 2016 his role was expanded to include the company’s global support functions, which encompass corporate business development, investor relations, information technology, procurement, real estate operations, and corporate strategy.


Davis said, “I am honored to be appointed the next chief executive officer of Merck. I thank the board and Ken for their confidence in me. I plan to continue Ken’s focus on innovation as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company.”


Prior to joining Merck, Davis was corporate vice president and president of Baxter’s Medical Products business, where he oversaw the successful integration of that company’s Global Medication Delivery and Renal businesses into a single organisation encompassing commercial operations, manufacturing and R&D.



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