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Beckman Coulter's Garrett Steps Down

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Beckman Coulter announced today that Chairman, President, and CEO Scott Garrett resigned from the firm, effective yesterday.

The Orange County, Calif.-based diagnostics and research products firm has appointed J. Robert Hurley as interim president and CEO and plans to search for a full-time successor to Garrett. Hurley has served as senior VP of human resources and chairman of Beckman Coulter Japan. He's been with the firm since 2005 and recently led the integration of Olympus' lab-based diagnostics business into Beckman Coulter.

Glenn Schafer, the firm's lead independent director, has been appointed non-executive chairman.

Beckman Coulter did not provide the reasons for Garrett's resignation.

"Over the past eight years, five of them as CEO, I've had the pleasure and privilege to lead the company through many significant improvements," Garrett said in a statement. "Today, the company continues making good progress, even in a very challenging environment."

The firm recently lowered its revenue and earnings expectations for the year, as it has struggled with "quality challenges in the US market, weakness in demand from life science markets, and reduced expectations for our cellular business," according to comments made in late July by Garrett.

Those comments were made in tandem with the release of the firm's second-quarter results, which fell short of Wall Street expectations and led to a sharp drop in Beckman Coulter's stock price.

The company has recently been faced with quality control issues surrounding its AccuTnl troponin test kits that run on its UniCel DxI immunoassay system. It said in June that it is planning to conduct a prospective clinical study and to submit two separate 510(k) submissions to the FDA for the troponin test in the first half of 2011 — one for its Access instruments and one for its DxI instruments.

"We have identified root causes and developed remediation plans," Garrett said in July. "Implementation is underway with some projects continuing through 2011."

During Garrett's tenure, Beckman Coulter underwent a restructuring of its business in 2005-2006, which included a 3 percent reduction in its workforce. The restructuring also included a reorganization of the firm's sales force to focus around geographic areas and major market segments, as well as divestitures and the shutting down of certain product lines, such as its decision in late 2005 to close its San Diego-based Cell Analysis and Development Center — which housed R&D and service for its IC 100 high-content screening technology. It also led the firm to pursue a sales strategy focused on operating-type leases rather than sales-type leases for its big-ticket equipment.

Other highlights from Garrett's tenure include the firm's acquisition in May 2005 of Agencourt Bioscience, which provided Beckman Coulter with the Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization technology for isolating and purifying DNA and RNA in its automated sample preparation systems for biomedical research and molecular testing. Beckman Coulter eventually sold part of that business, Agencourt Personal Genomics, to Applied Biosystems (now part of Life Technologies) for around $120 million.

It also acquired the diagnostics business of Olympus last year for $780 million, and relocated its headquarters from Fullerton, Calif., to the nearby city of Brea over the past couple of years.

Around a year ago, it also announced the formation of Beckman Coulter Genomics, which combined the operations of the Agencourt Bioscience business with Cogenics, a genomics services firm it had recently purchased from Clinical Data for $17 million.

In early Tuesday trade on the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Beckman Coulter dropped around 3 percent to $44.99.

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