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Affymetrix CEO Stepping Down

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Affymetrix today announced that President and CEO Kevin King is stepping down as of the end of June and will be replaced by former Dionex President and CEO Frank Witney.

Affy said that King was leaving to "pursue other interests."

Witney is a former executive vice president and COO of Affymetrix, which he joined following Affy's acquisition of Panomics in 2008. He had been president and CEO of Panomics from 2002 to 2008.

Witney joined Dionex in April 2009, and served as president and CEO until that firm was recently acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific for $2.1 billion.

Stephen Fodor, founder and chairman of Affymetrix's board of directors, said in a statement that Witney "is the right person to lead the company through its next phase of growth and development."

King took over as CEO of Affymetrix from Fodor in January 2009. At that time, sales of gene expression products were struggling amid the global economic meltdown, and Affy reported a 27 percent drop in fourth-quarter 2008 revenues. It also was forced to take an impairment charge of $239.1 million related to a decline in its stock price that had caused its market value to fall below its net equity value.

"Under Kevin's leadership, Affymetrix's operating cost structure improved, gross margins were expanded and the Company returned to operating profitability," Fodor said in the statement today. "Today Affymetrix is well-positioned for future success and has a strong balance sheet with more than $240 million of cash as of March 31, 2011."

However, Affymetrix also has struggled with revenue growth over the past year, posting year-over-year declines for its past four successive quarters. It recently reported an 8 percent decline in Q1 revenues year over year, but met Wall Street forecasts for break-even on the bottom line.

Shares of Affymetrix were up around 2 percent at $6.20 in early Wednesday trade on the Nasdaq.