Best to Leave as Boston Scientific CFO

15-year veteran at the medical devices maker, and a leader of its M&A binge, chooses private investing. Zimmer's Sam Zeno named finance chief.

Boston Scientific Corp. CFO Larry Best is leaving the company after 15 years as one of the engineers of its growth.

Best was seen as a key player in the medical device maker’s $27-billion acquisition of Guidant Corp. last year, and is credited with engineering 37 acquisitions during his tenure, according to the Boston Globe.

Best’s tenure had been marred somewhat, however, by the problems the company faced since the Guidant controversial acquisition, which came after a high-profile bidding war with rival Johnson & Johnson.

By buying Guidant, Boston Scientific was able to break into the market for pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. But in the process it greatly expanded its debt. In addition, safety concerns have been raised about its drug-coated coronary stents, while Guidant’s defibrillators have been recalled.

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific’s stock is down about 50 percent in the past two years.

The Globe said Best will get a $3.3 million exit package, described by a company spokesman as being the standard retirement deal at Boston Scientific.

When he departs in July, Best will be succeeded by Sam Leno, currently CFO and executive vice president of finance and corporate services for Zimmer Holdings Inc. At Boston Scientific, he will be CFO and executive vice president of finance and information systems.

From 1971 to 1994, Leno served in a number of finance, accounting and leadership positions for Baxter International Inc./American Hospital Supply Corp., where he worked closely with the current Boston Scientific president and CEO, Jim Tobin, who then served as the chief operating officer of Baxter.

“I have known Sam for more than 20 years, and he brings a substantial body of knowledge, expertise and experience to his new role,” said Boston Scientific’s Tobin, in a press release. “He has worked in large, diversified companies, including two of the world’s leading health care technology companies.”

Leno has also served as CFO and senior vice president of Arrow Electronics, and CFO and executive vice president of Corporate Express.

Best will pursue an interest in private investing within the life sciences field, according to Boston Scientific. “He has been instrumental to our growth strategy, particularly the historic and transforming acquisition of Guidant, which I believe has been our most important and beneficial transaction,” said Tobin, in a statement.

Prior to joining Boston Scientific in 1992, Best was a partner at Ernst & Young, where he specialized in serving multinational companies in the high technology and life sciences fields. He served a two-year fellowship at the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1979 to 1981 and a one-year term as a White House-appointed Presidential Exchange Executive in Washington, D.C.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Biogen, Idec Inc., and Haemonetics Corp.

In other news of CFO appointments, Nortel Networks named David Drinkwater as CFO, effective immediately. He has served as chief legal officer since December 2005.

Prior to being named chief legal officer, Drinkwater ran a consulting business and held various corporate directorships from August 2004 to December 2005, and was executive vice president and CFO of Ontario Power Generation Inc., a generator and seller of electricity, from April 2003 to July 2004.

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