Monday, Biogen Idec, Inc. (BIIB) said it named Robert Hamm as its Chief Operating Officer, or COO, effective immediately. Hamm, who has been Executive Vice President, Pharmaceutical Operations & Technology at the company since 2007, replaces Hans Peter Hasler, who is leaving the company.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company noted that the new COO will add Global Business Operations to his responsibilities.

Commenting on the appointment, Jim Mullen, Chief Executive Officer, said, Bob has vast experience in virtually all aspects of our operations. His strong commercial understanding and outstanding leadership qualities make him an excellent choice to be our COO. I want to thank Hans Peter for his many years of service at Biogen Idec during a period of tremendous growth and International expansion.

It was in 1994 that Hamm, 57, joined Biogen Idec, and since then has held various positions, including Senior Vice President, Europe, Africa, Canada and Middle East; Vice President, Sales and Marketing; Vice President, Manufacturing & Engineering; and Director, Northern Europe and Distributors Markets. From 2004 to 2007, he served as Senior Vice President, Neurology Strategic Business Unit. Before joining Biogen Idec, Hamm held a variety of management positions at Syntex Laboratories Corp. from 1987 to 1994.

In a different management change, on March 12, Biogen Idec had noted that Cecil Pickett would retire from the position of President, Research and Development, and that the company has initiated search for a replacement, indicating that internal and external candidates would be considered for the job.

Pickett would continue to head Research and Development until the appointment of his successor, and he was assigned to transform the company's pipeline and to select a successor to lead R&D for the next decade.

Earlier, in mid-February, Biogen Idec appointed Michael Lytton as executive vice president of business and corporate development, who would be responsible for leading the business development activities.

Among peers, drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) in early March appointed Lamberto Andreotti as president and chief operating officer, and a board member. Andreotti has been with Bristol-Myers for 11 years, and most recently served as executive vice president and chief operating officer. In addition, the company said that it has formed a new executive body, which will be its senior strategy and decision-making body.

In a February 9 research note, brokerage Barclays Capital downgraded its rating on Biogen Idec shares to 'Underweight' from 'Equal Weight' with a price target of $38, following the company's fourth quarter results. Analyst Jim Birchenough sees downside risk to continued decline in Tysabri trends, additional PML cases, weak Avonex unit growth, loss of Rituxan EU contribution and extended timelines for pegylated Avonex. There remain multiple mid-cap biologics players and the analyst doesn't expect shareholder activism to bear fruit.

BIIB closed Friday's regular trading session at $52.28, down $0.38, on a volume of 3.6 million shares. In the past 52 weeks, shares have traded in a broad range of $37.21 -$73.59.

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