Last month Andrew Carr, president of Amersham Biosciences, told GT readers that his main goal for the year would be to bring the “discovery systems” portion of his business into profit by 2004. Now his boss, Amersham CEO William Castell, is making it perfectly clear he agrees that Carr’s attentions should be focused on the company’s only unprofitable division: in March Castell took away the profitable half of Carr’s concern — the protein separations division — and put someone else in charge. Castell also announced job cuts aimed at paving the way for Carr’s journey toward profitability.
Castell said he would eliminate 400 manufacturing and R&D jobs from the company’s European, Japanese, and US operations. The cuts, most of which had been made by early March, included a net loss of 260 jobs from US facilities in San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Calif., Lawrenceville, NJ, and Piscataway, NJ. Company spokeswoman Tracy Cheung says that the reorganization, at a one-time cost of $72 million with a projected savings of $47 million to $55 million a year, will centralize research operations for discovery systems in Piscataway, and consolidate discovery systems manufacturing into fewer sites. Amersham insiders say the cuts are taking place mostly in genomics-product-related jobs.
Castell also announced that the discovery division would refocus its R&D portfolio on higher-value, systems-based products that link instruments with reagents, such as the company’s IN Cell analyzer, and on stand-alone consumables such as TempliPhi. Castell said in a statement that Amersham Biosciences’ discovery systems sales efforts would target high-growth customer segments. Cheung explains the focus will be on “high-value systems that really enable drug discovery and development ... and [enable customers to do] something quite different from what they’ve done before.”
Peter Ehrenheim, who directed protein separations under Carr, was promoted to the new position of president of protein separations, reporting directly to Castell.
— Adrienne J. Burke