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Illumina Taps Agilent Exec Jacob Thaysen as Next CEO

NEW YORK – Illumina has appointed Agilent Technologies executive Jacob Thaysen as CEO, effective Sept. 25.

Thaysen, 48, is a senior VP at Agilent and since 2018 has been president of its life sciences and applied markets group, where he is responsible for analytical instruments, informatics, and cell analysis. Before that, he led the firm's diagnostics and genomics group. Prior to Agilent, he was corporate VP of R&D at Dako, which was acquired by Agilent in 2012. He holds a master's degree and a doctorate in physics from the Technical University of Denmark.

"After conducting a robust search process, we are thrilled to have found someone of Jacob's caliber to become chief executive of Illumina and help shape and lead the company into its next phase of growth," Stephen MacMillan, chair of the board of Illumina and CEO of Hologic, said in a statement. "Jacob's unique combination of deep technological and commercial experience will be a great addition to Illumina. The board is excited to work with Jacob. He brings a fresh perspective, a demonstrated track record driving profitable growth, and a strong commitment to create value for all of Illumina's stakeholders. We are confident that under his direction, Illumina can continue to execute on its goals and drive long-term shareholder value."

"The Illumina CEO role required someone with a specific set of skills, and we believe Jacob Thaysen checks all the boxes," Evercore ISI analyst Vijay Kumar wrote in a note to investors following the announcement. "Firstly, he comes with a core [life science] tools background, which was critical in our mind given the context of previous hire being outside the industry." His exposure as a top life science executive "should help on the communication front," Kumar wrote, as will his "deep science background" and experience dealing with clinical customers.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Kyle Mikson noted that Thaysen has some exposure to sequencing technology from Agilent's purchase of Lasergen, although Mikson said that development on that platform ceased in 2020.

Thaysen will also become a member of the board of directors upon joining Illumina.

"I'm planning to hit the ground running and looking forward to working with the incredibly talented teams at Illumina," Thaysen said in a statement. "Together, we will continue serving our customers as the industry standard and driving long-term value for our shareholders and other stakeholders."

Interim CEO Charles Dadswell will return to his position as general counsel and senior VP.

In Tuesday morning trading on the Nasdaq, shares of Illumina were down 4 percent at $161.63.