Waters Poring Over Candidates After CEO Announces Retirement Plan

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Thermo fisher scientific Thermo electron

Waters Starts Search For New CEO
Waters Starts Search For New CEO
Mass spec, chromatography and analytical tech firm Waters has started its search for a new CEO based on the assumption it will remain independent and keep the same growth strategy.

Douglas Berthiaume, who has led Waters since 1994 when the firm split from Millpore, will step down “within the next two years​” according to Gene Cassis, corporate VP of worldwide business development.

Cassis told BioPharmareporter.com: “The time frame cited indicates our desire to take all steps required to ensure a well thought out and seamless transition. In the meantime, Mr Berthiaume will actively lead this company and follow the same business strategy​.”

Waters’ business strategy has been focused on organic growth rather than acquisitions, with the purchase of UK-based proteomics firm Nonlinear Dynamics earlier this month being the notable exception.

This contrasts with rivals in the life science technology sector that are set on growing through takeovers, the highest profile example being Thermo Fisher Scientific which agreed to buy genetic testing equipment firm Life Technologies for $13.6bn (€10.1bn) in February​.

Growth strategy

News of Berthiaume’s departure prompted some to ask whether Waters would stick with its current approach.

For example, Ross Muken from ISI Group said that: “The key question will be whether an internal or external candidate will continue the prior strategy of organic growth and share repurchases versus the LST [life scienc technology] industry's bias toward M&A​.”

We put this idea to Cassis who told us that: “Given that we are at the very beginning stages of a leadership transition, it is premature to speculate on strategic vision of a future CEO​.”

Takeover speculation

The other M&A-related question is whether Berthiaume’s departure announcement makes it more likely that Waters itself will become an acquisition target for firms interested in its mass spec, chromatography and thermal analysis technology and services offering.

Thermo Fisher’s decision to shell out $13.6bn for Life Tech – which added the latter’s media and chromatography systems to the former’s single-use manufacturing and analytical offerings – indicates firms are willing to for platforms like those made by Waters.

We also put this idea to Cassis told us the search for a new CEO “assumes that Waters will remain an independent company with a continued focus of delivering class-leading products and responsive customer service​.”

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